Lobbying blamed for failure by EU to ban toxic chemicals

An investigation into why chemicals used in everyday products and described by the World Health Organisation as a global threat have not been banned by the EU puts the blame on intensive industry lobbying.

Carried out by the campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory, and French journalist Stéphane Horel, using European Commission documents obtained under freedom of information rights, it plots in detail the fate of three pieces of legislation designed to control the chemicals.

One of these hormone disrupting products — bisphenol A — was banned four years ago from being used in babies bottles.

However, every effort to extend the ban to cover more of these man-made chemicals has been thwarted, as industry questioned the science behind it, lobbied officials, and the European Parliament.

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The latest move has been an insistence at the top levels of the European Commission that an impact assessment be carried out to measure the effect of a ban, especially on business that will see any move delayed until 2017, according to the report.

This is despite reports from the World Health Organisation in 2012 updating the scientific knowledge about these chemicals that said a healthy endocrine system was essential for human and wildlife health and normal reproduction.

The high and increasing endocrine- related disorders in humans and their effects on wildlife were a cause for concern.

It listed them as including the fact that up to 40% of young men in some countries have low semen quality; the high incidence of genital malformations in baby boys; increasing thyroid problems in children; and global increases in endocrine-related cancers including breast, ovarian and prostate; increasing obesity and diabetes.

Nina Holland, co author of the Corporate Europe Observatory report, said they believe that the latest delaying tactic is to allow the EU-US trade deal, TTIP to be concluded which would ensure no ban.

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