EU moves to define endocrine-disrupting pesticides | July 10, 2017 Issue - Vol. 95 Issue 28 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 95 Issue 28 | p. 17 | News of The Week
Issue Date: July 10, 2017 | Web Date: July 7, 2017

EU moves to define endocrine-disrupting pesticides

Member states adopt criteria for identifying hormone-altering chemicals
Department: Government & Policy
News Channels: Environmental SCENE
Keywords: pesticides, endocrine disruptors, European
EU member states have approved criteria for determining whether a pesticide disrupts the hormone system.
Credit: Shutterstock
Photo shows Dutch farmer in a tractor spraying pesticides on fruit trees in bloom.
EU member states have approved criteria for determining whether a pesticide disrupts the hormone system.
Credit: Shutterstock

European Union member states on July 4 adopted a list of criteria for identifying whether the active ingredient in a pesticide is an endocrine disruptor. The benchmarks are expected to set the stage for regulating chemicals that interfere with hormones in products beyond pesticides, including toys, cosmetics, and food packaging.

“After months of discussion we are advancing in the direction of the first regulatory system in the world with legally binding criteria to define what an endocrine disruptor is,” says EU Commissioner for Health & Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis. “Once implemented, the text will ensure that any active substance used in pesticides which is identified as an endocrine disruptor for people or animals can be assessed and withdrawn from the market.”

Neither the pesticide industry nor environmental groups supported the criteria when they were first proposed by the European Commission last year. Little has changed since then, and both sides are still raising concerns.

The pesticide industry, represented by the European Crop Protection Association, says the criteria could lead to the removal of dozens of pesticide products from the EU market. In a report released earlier this year, the industry group claimed that the criteria would reduce “crop yields, crop value, and the EU’s self-sufficiency in certain staple crops, such as wheat.”

On the other hand, EDC–Free Europe, a coalition of dozens of environmental and health advocacy groups, says the criteria will “require a high burden of proof,” so most endocrine-disrupting substances will be undetected and evade regulation.

Three scientific societies that are focused on endocrinology also oppose the criteria, citing “arbitrary exemptions for chemicals specifically designed to disrupt target insect endocrine systems that have similarities to systems in wildlife and humans.”

Groups on both sides of the issue are urging the European Parliament and Council to reject the criteria. The two bodies must approve the criteria within three months for the benchmarks to be officially adopted.

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