Tuesday

16th Jan 2018

Opinion

Endocrine disruptors fight shows power of industry lobby

  • Activists lobbying the Commission in Brussels, who they say have been deliberately dragging their feet over the hormone disruptor issue. (Photo: EDC-free Europe)

The debate on endocrine disruptors (EDCs) made it once again onto the agenda of the European Parliament this week. But the message this week was absolutely clear: MEPs will not abide by the rules of industry lobbies. Chemicals that disrupt hormone systems must be banned - no exceptions.

The sheer number of everyday products containing chemicals that disrupt hormone systems of both humans and animals is staggering.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

These harmful chemicals can be found in plastics, food containers, cosmetics, electronics, toys, sports shoes and the rubber granules used on synthetic sports fields. EDCs are ever more present in nature, as several approved pesticides with hormone disrupting properties continue to be abundantly sprayed on vegetables and fruits.

Hundreds of scientific studies have demonstrated that exposure to EDCs is harmful to our health, even in small doses. Given the rapid increase in associated ailments, such as congenital disorders in children, thyroid dysfunctions, fertility problems, testicular cancer and breast cancer, it is of vital importance that we protect ourselves, our animals and our environment from exposure by banning EDCs altogether.

300,000 citizens say 'no' to EDCs

And that is exactly what 300,000 European citizens have called for by signing a petition urging the European Parliament to reject the Commission's latest proposal on this issue. And they are not alone: health and environmental interest groups have consistently warned against the dangers of exposure to these toxic substances. These groups, which have mobilised hundreds of thousands of concerned individuals, all demand a total ban.

Although science is clear on the urgency of the matter, the Commission does not seem to be in a hurry as it appears to be more concerned with protecting big businesses over the interests of people, animals and the environment.

One would think that an estimated €163 billion social bill resulting from EDC-exposure would prompt the Commission to take action. Instead, the Commission has been trying every trick in the book to keep EDCs on the market.

Scientific caution...or stonewalling?

First, the Commission endlessly debated which scientific criteria it would adopt for the identification of EDCs. The Commission then delayed publishing the scientific criteria, with the goal of keeping EDCs on the market for as long as possible despite a European Court of Justice ruling stating that these delays breached EU law. Demonstrations by health campaigners and consumer groups, a European Parliament resolution condemning the Commission and even a motion of censure - which was only withdrawn at the very last moment - were needed to get the Commission moving.

Finally, the Commission proposed such a high burden of proof that many EDCs would go unidentified and potential disruptors escape scrutiny altogether.

By means of a derogation, the Commission believed it had found a way to keep pesticides which disrupt hormone systems out of the regulation. This last move in the EDC saga did not go unnoticed by the European Parliament, which voted it down this week.

The Parliament contends that the Commission exceeded its remit by issuing the derogation. Pushing for derogations by means of illegal procedures renders parliament's involvement impossible.

Yesterday´s vote shows that an absolute majority of MEPs stand for a new set of criteria that protects consumers and the environment. With this result, the call for new criteria that will sufficiently protect us was loud and clear. The Commission has had more than enough opportunities to fulfil its obligations. It is time to abolish EDC´s, staving off the interference of industry lobbies that has put money before the lives of millions of people and animals.

Anja Hazekamp is an MEP with the European United Left - Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) group in the European Parliament. She is a member of the Dutch Party for the Animals.

Focus

EU adopts hormone disruptor norms

A European Commission proposal on how to define endocrine disruptors was voted through on Tuesday, after a year of blockage. A French turn-around allowed the decision.

Don't let circular economy become a health hazard

The promotion of a circular economy must guarantee European consumers that products made from recovered or recycled materials, including plastics, do not also include recovered or recycled hazardous substances.

Analysis

Endocrine legislation could be delayed years after veto

MEPs last week blocked the European Commission's proposal to define hormone-disrupting chemicals, saying it did not go far enough to protect human health. They may inadvertently have kicked EU legislation on the matter into the next parliamentary term.

Ten Commandments to overcome the EU's many crises

A series of missteps - from the faulty institutional infrastructure of the euro, to the migration crisis - have left the EU battered and in near crisis. Here are ten steps to re-democratise the union.

EU's 'old men' must pressure Poland on abortion rights

Despite fresh crackdowns on Poland's already restrictive abortion laws, EU commission president Juncker did not raise the issue with the new Polish PM Morawiecki - perhaps because it was an all-male event?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  2. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  3. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  4. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  5. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  6. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted
  7. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  8. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  9. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  10. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  11. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  12. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology

Latest News

  1. Post-Brexit trade roll-over not automatic, EU paper says
  2. Oettinger pushes plastic tax but colleagues express doubts
  3. MEPs target exports of cyber surveillance tech
  4. Kosovo killing halts EU talks in Brussels
  5. ECB withheld information on 'flawed' bank supervision
  6. Fewer MEPs than visitors turn up for Estonian PM
  7. EU names China and Russia as top hackers
  8. Ten Commandments to overcome the EU's many crises

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  2. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  4. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  6. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  7. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  8. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties
  9. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  10. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  11. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage
  12. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla