Using the argument of the top secret Trans-Atlanic Trade and Investment Partnership talks, as well as enormous reported lobbying pressure from such chemical giants as Bayer AG and BASF as their excuse, the EU Commission has quietly abandoned plans for tighter safety regulations on pesticides. This is no minor bureaucratic issue. The health and safety of hundreds of millions of people in the EU are at risk to say nothing of animals, birds and insects, and nature at all.
Way back in 1999, sixteen years ago, the EU Commission began to look at possible health dangers from a class of chemical pesticides known as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Until now, tragically, nothing has been done by Brussels to safeguard the health and safety of her citizens based on the “precautionary principle,” otherwise stated, if it might harm, there is evidence it does, and you cannot be more precise, ban it until you are absolutely certain, whether GMO crops and glyphosate herbicide Roundup or ECDs or DDT.
Scientists link ECD exposure, even in low doses, to a rise in foetal abnormalities, genital mutations, lowered sperm counts, genital malformations, non-descended testes, misplaced penis holes, infertility, cancer and even to IQ loss. One recent study by the Washington University School of Medicine linked 15 EDCs found in plastics, personal care products, cosmetics and many household items, to early onset of menopause.
There is an estimated health cost in the EU of between €157 to perhaps €270 billion annually dealing with the health damage from EDC exposure. Endocrine disruptors can be found in food containers, plastics, furniture, toys, carpeting and cosmetics. Professor Philippe Grandjean of Harvard University, one of a group of 18 of the world’s foremost experts on endocrine science scientists which did a study on effects of endocrine disruptors remarked, “The shocking thing is that the major component of that cost is related to the loss of brain function in the next generation.”
Scientists recommend against pregnant women and children using plastic containers for food, especially in the microwave due to endocrine disruptors. Photograph: Fir Mamat/Alamy
Based on such scientific studies, the EU had prepared a list of 31 endocrine-disrupting chemicals that were to be completely banned in 2014. More and more scientific studies had documented that the ECDs produce toxic effects in extremely low doses and are not suitable to regulate intensity of exposures but require a complete ban.
Angeliki Lyssimachou, environmental toxicologist with Pesticides Action Network-Europe (PAN), said: “If the draft ‘cut-off’ criteria proposed by the commission had been applied correctly, 31 pesticides would have been banned by now, fulfilling the mandate of the pesticide regulation to protect humans and the environment from low-level chronic endocrine disrupting pesticide exposure.”
Instead, now the EU favors industry-supported options for “potency-based” measurements of EDCs. These would set thresholds, below which exposure to low-potency EDCs would be deemed safe, even if no comprehensive testing for longer-term effects on humans had been conducted.
Chemical Industry wins over our Health, Safety
Apparently the interests of international trade in toxic substances were deemed more important by the opaque, unelected, faceless bureaucrats in the Brussels EU Commission who have such enormous anonymous power over our daily lives, so far away from democratic checks and balances.
The key faceless one who killed the proposed ban now gets a face. Her name is Catherine Day. She sits next to EU President Jean Claude Junker and arguably wields more power as Secretary General current Secretary-General of the European Commission, a post she has held for ten years and two presidents.
EU Faceless Bureaucrat Catherine Day gets a face (source:IIEA.com)
Day, the Irish-born Secretary-General, according to EU documents obtained by the UK Guardian that are just now made public, cancelled the planned EDC ban on 2 July 2013, only hours after a same day visit to Brussels by representatives of TTIP officials from the US Mission to Europe. Secretary General Day, the same day, sent a letter to the Director General for Environment, Germany’s Karl Falkenberg, telling him to abandon the draft criteria that would have banned EDCs on the prudent “precautionary principle” pending years of independent health and safety tests.
EU chemical industry giants such as Bayer AG and BASF were joining the American Chamber in the heavy Brussels lobby pressure to get the ban lifted.
In the weeks before 2 July 2013, the US TTIP committee of the American Chambers of Commerce in Washington sent a letter to the EU Commission before flying to Brussels where they stated, “We are worried to see that this decision [to ban-f.w.e.], which is the source of many scientific debates, might be taken on political grounds, without first assessing what its impacts will be on the European market.” BASF also complained that bans on pesticide substances “will restrict the free trade with agricultural products on the global level.”
The EU internal documents obtained by the Guardian reveal that a high-level delegation from the American Chambers of Commerce (AmCham) visited EU trade officials on 2 July,, 2013 to insist that the EU drop its planned criteria for identifying EDCs in favor of a value new “impact study” that would leave EDCs untouched. They report that minutes of the meeting show EU Commission officials pleading that “although they want the TTIP to be successful, they would not like to be seen as lowering the EU standards.”
Even were all proposed 31 EDCs banned as originally planned, the impact on chemical sales in the EU of perhaps annually €9 billion. Compare that with health costs arising from EDC exposures of as much as €270 billion annually.
When journalists requested the EU Commission to make public the background memos and discussions, a Commission spokesperson retorted, “The commission is under no obligation to publish internal working papers. As you know, the European commission acts in full independence and in the general European interest.”
Excuse me, madam spokesperson, could you say that again, slowly? “As you know, the European commission acts in full independence and in the general European interest?”
Catherine Day, defending her killing of the ban, lied and stated that, “Needless to say, there is absolutely no truth in the allegation that our position was influenced by industry or anyone else. Our concern is only for the quality and coherence of the commission’s work – but not everyone wants to wait for that.” Coherently destructive to the population of the EU is her Commission’s work, but that is why Brussels prefers to remain as faceless as possible.
We continue to let the EU unelected faceless immoral bureaucrats wield power over our health, our childrens’ health, our very lives, whether allowing toxic GMOs or EDCs. We seem to be hypnotized by something that keeps us passive in the face of unbelievable actions clearly harmful to all of us. Isn’t that interesting?
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.