The EU Commission's delay in introducing common legislation concerning the use of chemicals that damage endocrine glands – such as the pancreas, ovaries, testes and pituitary gland, possibly causing cancer, low sperm counts and early puberty in girls – has led to a decision by the Danish government to take legal action.
The commission gave itself a deadline to establish the legislation concerning the chemicals, which are often referred to as endocrine disruptors, but this passed in December 2013.
Health hazardous chemicals
“Endocrine disruptors are one of the biggest public health threats of this and possibly the next century – maybe on a par with global climate destabilisation,” Génon K Jensen, the head of the Health and Environment Alliance, an NGO based in Brussels, told Euractiv earlier this year.
While the EU Commission has established temporary criteria to determine whether substances used in sprays or everyday pollutants (biocides) are endocrine disruptors, several EU states are concerned that more explicit criteria has not been set in place. In July 2014, Sweden also launched legal action.
Speeding up a stagnating process
Jean-Charles Bocquet, the director general of the European Crop Protection Association, is concerned about the slow pace of the process.
“It has already been delayed, and the timeline for a definition of endocrine disruptors has not been respected," he told Euractiv.
"We are in an uncertain situation. It produces a lack of clarity for the evaluators at the European Food Safety Authority level, for the risk managers, the member states and, of course, also for our members. The sooner the criteria is established and validated, the better it will be.”