EU support for new plan to regulate endocrine disruptors

The European Commission won support on Wednesday for a new plan to regulate chemicals which can potentially disrupt the body’s hormones, expressing hope it can take effect next year. Member state experts endorsed a proposal from the commission, the EU executive, that revises criteria to identify endocrine disruptions in products used to protect farm animals and plants from disease and insects.

The commission said the proposal targeted concerns of the European Parliament, which in October blocked a previous list of identification criteria. “I now call on Council and the European Parliament to give their green light on this text to ensure a swift implementation of the criteria in the course of 2018,” EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said.

The council groups ministers from the 28 European Union member states. Endocrine disruptors are believed to have a role in many health conditions, from obesity to infertility, and are found in many common goods such as cosmetics or even toys. Activist group Health and Environment Alliance said the new criteria fall short, reiterating concerns about the “very high burden of proof required in the criteria.”

The body’s endocrine system in the ovaries and testes, as well as the adrenal, pituitary and thyroid glands produce hormones that are secreted into the bloodstream to control and coordinate a range of critical body functions. These hormones help regulate energy levels, reproduction, growth, development, as well as our response to stress and injury.

The disruptors issue has pitted industry and agriculture against consumer and environmental groups for many years. The EU even announced last year that it had reached broad agreement on what substances were involved but had to go back to the drawing board amid controversy.

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