Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Protecting Pesticide Profits

The health commission of the European Union (DG SANCO), is responsible for protecting public health. Yet it is seeking a legal technicality that effectively allowed pesticides which would have been banned to be exempt from the ban.

 Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are those that alter hormonal regulation at very low doses to cause effects on behavior, reproduction, and gender, as well as cancer and birth defects.  Swedish environment minister Lena Ek commented:
“In some places in Sweden we see double sexed fish. We have scientific reports on how this affects fertility of young boys and girls, and other serious effects.”

In 2009, under the European Union’s then-new chemical REACH legislation, a continent-wide ban on endocrine disrupting pesticides was agreed.  EDCs are the subject of a large body of independent academic research showing that certain synthetic chemicals are already causing developmental disabilities and cancer among humans and wildlife through non-traditional (i.e. hormonal) toxicological routes. This evidence is why the ban was instigated. Because of the strength of the evidence and the low doses involved, any rigorous and effective rules to protect the public are likely to result in widespread bans and restrictions on commonly used industrial, agricultural, and household chemicals. This is one reason why EU commissioners are under strong industry pressure.

Instead of providing the needed safety guidance, DG SANCO appears to be drafting a procedural “escape route” around the endocrine disrupting ban. This legal maneuvering is being done behind closed doors and with the collaboration of some EU member states and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA, an independent EU agency created to assess food risks for the Commission). Only Sweden is opposing this escape route, which they consider to be an abandonment of the original democratic mandate. Sweden is now going to sue the EU due to mounting evidence that harmful impacts of endocrine disruption are already being felt. While missing their mandated December deadline for providing safety rules, DG SANCO and EFSA chose to perform an economic impact assessment of potential regulations instead. Now this economic impact assessment is itself 9 months late. Sweden and others have interpreted these delays as stalling a collectively agreed action.

Pesticides Action Network of Europe (PAN Europe) explains “By unilaterally changing the rules, DG SANCO is sidelining the EU Parliament and choosing economic interests over their own mission to protect people and the environment.”

Science Director of The Bioscience Resource Project, Allison Wilson, concluded:
“The public will be astounded and appalled to find that the institutions tasked with protecting them are secretly working against them.”

Sadly, SOYMB and the World Socialist Movement would not be astounded or appalled for we understand that capitalism and its representatives act in the interests of industry profits. This example is unfortunately just one case among many where peoples' health and safety takes second place to a corporate income returns.  

From the Truth Out website

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