MEPs reject Commission’s endocrine disruptor definition

Endocrine disruptors are contained in pesticides, cosmetic products, food, toys. [Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources/Flickr]

The European Commission will have to rewrite its definition of endocrine disruptors, after MEPs shot down the executive’s proposal in a vote in Strasbourg on Wednesday (4 October). EURACTIV’s partner Journal de l’Environment reports.

With 389 against, 235 in favour and 70 abstentions, MEPs rejected the Commission’s proposal for defining endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC).

The vote came after a qualified majority of member states adopted the proposal in July. France broke away from Sweden and Denmark, who thought the Commission’s definition was not protective enough, and in exchange for its vote obtained additional measures on EDCs.

But the European Parliament thought differently.

Overstepping its mandate

On 28 September the European Parliament’s environment, health and food safety committee (ENVI) roundly rejected the definition. The plenary session followed suit, making the same arguments.

“The main reason for the MEPs’ rejection is that the Commission has overstepped its mandate in proposing to exempt from the definition certain pesticides and biocides specifically designed for having an endocrine effect,” said the NGO Women in Europe for a Common Future.

Worry among the scientific community

MEPs chose a technical argument. But there are scientific reasons too, underpinning the harsh criticism that the scientific community directed at the Commission’s definition (Endocrine Society, European Society of Endocrinology and European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology): “These criteria would not be sufficient to protect public health […] and numerous EDCs would not fall within this definition,” the three scientific bodies said last June.

New proposal

“MEPs understood what the French government did not,” claimed François Veillerette, spokesperson for the ecological association Générations Futures.

“Now the Commission must produce a new proposal guaranteeing a high level of protection for the health and environment of Europeans.”

“Irresponsible vote”

Calling the vote “irresponsible”,  MEPs from the centre-right EPP group Françoise Grossetête et Angélique Delahaye – members of the ENVI and SANCO committes – declared that the Commission’s proposal, while flawed, still “allowed the EU to be on the forefront of health and environmental protection “.

The two French MEPs lamented that “purely legalistic arguments have trumped health protection […] It’s a leap in the dark”.