HEAL participates in EU Commission meeting on EDCs
The EU Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Food Safety (DG Sante) has started a series of Roundtables to inform various stakeholders, MEPs and EU country officials of the Impact Assessment process on the criteria to identify EDCs. HEAL attended the first meeting on 25 March.
Since the new EU Commission came into place in November 2014, the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety (now known as DG Sante) has been placed in charge of developing the criteria to identify and risk assess endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).
These criteria are legally required so that the ban on EDCs in the pesticides and biocides laws can be implemented. After Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) posed some critical questions to the EU Commissioner for Health earlier in March, DG Sante has started a series of roundtables to transparently inform different interested parties of the impact assessment process and its current ‘state of play’.
HEAL attended the first roundtable along with public interest, health, animal rights, trade unions, academic /research and industry groups. Further roundtables will take place on 23 April for MEPs and on 24 April for Member States. The Commission will also hold a public conference on Endocrine Disruptors in Brussels on June 1, 2015, to provide an update on the impact assessment and for interested parties to exchange views.
Public Consultation: DG Sante is analysing the results of the public consultation on the criteria and regulatory options for EDCs. Initial numerical results, and access to the submissions can be found here
Out of the 27,087 individual responses to the consultation (22,411 via the official online questionnaire), over 20,000 participated using the EDC-Free Europe coalition web tool which HEAL developed as the EDC-Free Europe campaign secretariat.
At the roundtable, DG Sante emphasised that this consultation was primarily to generate data for use in the impact assessment. DG Sante intends to issue an analytical report when the replies are assessed, but could not say when it would be published. The consultation website refers to this as a ‘factual quantitative report’ which would not pre-commit the Commission to any position.
Estimating EDCs to assess impacts: DG Sante has assigned the EU Joint Research Centre to produce a methodology to evaluate chemicals for endocrine disrupting properties. Due to time pressure, DG Sante has declined to take input from any stakeholders on the methodology, including Member States. Then, using this methodology, an external contractor will undertake a brief, desk-based review of the existing toxicological data on some 700 chemical substances. (The 700 chemicals will include around 500 pesticides and biocides, with the remainder being industrial REACH chemicals and cosmetics/body care ingredients. However, only the results for the pesticide and biocide chemicals will subsequently be used in the impact assessment).
Once the contractor has - according to each criteria option laid out in the EDC roadmap - identified which chemicals would count as EDCs, DG Sante will analyse the social, economic, environmental, health, trade, agricultural and general impacts of market bans from these four sets.
DG Sante has not committed to publishing the methodology or the results of its application to the 700 chemicals. Industry representatives are concerned that these results could have a blacklisting effect, whereas public interest groups want the results made public to fulfil Commissioner Andriukaitis’ pledge of full transparency. Also, although DG Sante insisted the estimation was strictly for the impact assessment exercise, the impact assessment will presumably inform a final decision on which criteria are selected, which will have both an impact on the regulatory decision making about individual chemicals.
When DG Sante has completed its impact analysis, it submits a report to the Impact Assessment review board. If it obtains approval, DG Sante can then publish the criteria and proceed with the ‘delegated act’ (for biocides) and proposing an ‘implementing act’ for pesticides, the latter requiring a vote by the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed under Commitology rules.
HEAL maintains that the impact assessment must include a comprehensive assessment of the health benefits of reducing people’s exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals EDCs, including the ‘cocktail effect’ that comes from the additive effects between pesticides/ biocides and other chemicals such as flame retardants, plasticizers, food packaging constituents and cosmetic ingredients. A number of reports looking at the links between endocrine-related chronic diseases and endocrine disrupting chemicals have put the EU health price tag at between 31 billion euros per year to 157 billion euros per year or possibly higher.
Originally posted on 9 April 2015