Fifteen pesticides that the European Commission is evaluating for market approval are of “critical concern” regarding endocrine disruption; 2,4-D named as of “concern”
Fifteen of the pesticides that the European Commission is currently evaluating for market approval are of “critical concern” regarding their endocrine disrupting properties, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reported last Wednesday. Out of these, 11 have been on the market for years and their 10-year authorization expires at the end of this year. But EU Commission’s health and consumer division, DG SANTE has a different agenda: instead of considering their “non-approval”, the experts of the Standing Committee have been discussing the extension of the re-approval period for these exact eleven pesticides.
2,4-D, a herbicide used on the latest generation of GM crops, does not fall into the “critical concern” category. But EFSA lists it as causing “concern… for an issue not finalised”, namely its endocrine disrupting properties. EFSA notes data gaps regarding its effects on endocrine organs. It adds that adverse effects on endocrine organs have been identified which “should be further clarified to assess their relevance on the developing offspring”.
EFSA’s technical report is a review of the currently available literature - particularly the industry’s dossiers and the Commission’s risk assessment reports - to identify the pesticides with endocrine disrupting properties based on the “interim criteria” as well as on current available international guidelines (OECD). In agreement with PAN Europe’s position, the report shows that the current “interim criteria” are insufficient to identify endocrine disrupting pesticides and consequently will fail to protect human health and the environment from the exposure to these chemicals.
Out of the total 15 pesticides of “critical concern”, 6 didn’t fulfil the interim criteria at all and 2 remained inconclusive. The Commission needs to act fast and set the correct criteria for the regulation of these substances.
However, even the pesticides that fulfil the interim criteria are on the agenda of DG SANTE for extending their period of use.
Prolonging a pesticide’s authorization is a regular tactic of the Commission. For ten of the pesticides identified by EFSA as of “critical concern”, DG SANTE is currently considering extending their authorisation for the second time, since they have already been on the market for more than their 10-year authorization period.
EFSA’s report also concludes that even four years after the pesticide regulation entered into force, several industry dossiers and regulatory risk assessment studies still have major data gaps in assessing the endocrine-related adverse effects of pesticides. Also, as PAN Europe has reported, studies from the independent literature are routinely rejected, together with the scientific evidence they provide. This is another proof that the risk assessment reports still don’t comply with the Pesticide Regulation 1107/2009 to evaluate substances for endocrine disruption (the regulation demands that peer-reviewed literature is properly considered).
PAN Europe stresses that so far the Commission’s DG SANTE has shown a great resistance to applying the Pesticide Regulation in European risk assessment. It has allowed the abuse of prolongations, derogations and data gaps. Dr Angeliki Lysimachou, PAN Europe’s toxicologist, said: “Exposure to endocrine disruptors is an issue of global concern and EU regulators must take serious action to limit human and environmental exposure to these harmful chemicals”.
1. Report available at EFSA’s website: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/supporting/pub/867e
2. Pending the Commission defining the scientific criteria for endocrine disruptors, the Interim criteria are in force (1107/2009; Annex II, 3.6.5).
3. PAN Europe’s position on Commission’s Roadmap. (Option 1, Interim Criteria). http://www.paneurope.
Source: Pesticide Action Network Europe with additional information from GMWatch