Commission delay over endocrine disruptors ‘prolonging public exposure’
Published 15 Nov 2013
Thirty banner-carrying representatives of the EDC-Free Europe campaign presented a photo collage to President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, to express concerns about the presence of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in everyday products.
The image was made up of hundreds of photos sent in by citizens and organisations in countries throughout Europe involved in the EDC-Free Europe campaign. The poster collage conveys Barroso giving the "all OK" sign and another of a pregnant woman, in the hope that he will respond positively to the campaign request for urgent policy action on EDCs to protect human health.
"The commission's decision to delay setting criteria for endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) will unnecessarily prolong the public's exposure to these substances and increase the risk of chronic disease," said Génon K. Jensen, executive director of the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL).
The EDC-Free Europe coalition, which is made up of 50 partners representing hundreds of EU citizens' organisations, are calling on Barroso to quickly bring forward delayed EDC policy proposals.
Reducing human exposure, which is particularly important for pregnant women and children, would help protect everyone from a range of common chronic conditions, including breast and prostate cancer, obesity, diabetes and infertility.
The message of the campaign action reiterated an earlier call made to Barroso in May this year. A letter to him asked for an end to delays in regulatory action on endocrine disrupting chemicals and for immediate action to reduce people's exposure. The groups say that postponed decisions will unnecessarily prolong people's exposure to these chemicals.
Low-level, everyday exposures to EDCs disturb the human hormone system. Many of the EDC-related conditions are increasing in incidence in Europe, such as obesity, diabetes and breast cancer. Chronic disease as a whole is a leading public health challenge and a drain on the European economy.
Scientists actively engaged in endocrine disruptor research have made clear their position on the need for urgent action. In May 2013, 89 leading public health experts from around the world signed the Berlaymont declaration on endocrine disruptors, which calls on the European commission to act.
The European Parliament democratically agreed that scientific criteria for EDCs would be set by December this year. The European commission then recently decided to launch an impact assessment on the scientific criteria for determining endocrine disrupting properties - a move which delays decisions, ignores public will and goes against scientific recommendation.
Industry pressure, rather than scientific controversy about the criteria to protect EU citizens from harmful EDCs, may be at the heart of why the decisions are being delayed. The EDC-Free Europe campaign believes that the commission already has ample scientific input and should stand up to industry bullying on the criteria. The groups urge him to publish a revised strategy as soon as possible and to ensure that Reach does not authorise chemicals that are hormone disruptors when safer alternatives exist.
This article was written by Génon K. Jensen, the executive director of the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), a partner in the EDC-Free Europe campaign.