EFSA's technical report on pesticides with endocrine disrupting properties

Monday, September 28, 2015  

PAN Europe examined the recent technical report of European Safety Food Authority on pesticides with endocrine properties and revealed that the pesticides characterised by EFSA as of "critical concern" due to their endocrine properties, are in the agenda of DG SANTE for prolonging their authorization period, rather than terminating it. This shows, once more, the great resistance of DG SANTE to remove endocrine disrupting pesticides from the market, at the cost of human health and the environment.

EFSA’s report on endocrine disrupters challenges DG SANTE’s work

Fifteen of the pesticides that the European Commission is currently evaluating for market approval are of “critical concern” regarding their endocrine disrupting properties- the European Food Safety Authority reported last Wednesday[1]. Out of these, 11 have been in the market for years and their 10-years authorization expires at the end of this year. But EU Commission’s health and consumer division, DG SANTE has a different agenda: instead of considering their “non-approval”, the experts of the Standing Committee have been discussing the extension of the re-approval period for these exact eleven pesticides.

 EFSA’s technical report is a review of the current available literature -particularly the industry’s dossiers and Commission’s risk assessment reports- to identify the pesticides with endocrine disrupting properties based on the “interim criteria”[1] as well as on current available international guidelines (OECD). In agreement with PAN Europe’s position[2], the report shows that the current “interim criteria” are insufficient to identify endocrine disrupting pesticides and consequently will fail to protect human health and the environment from the exposure to these chemicals. Out of the total 15 pesticides of “critical concern”, 6 didn’t fulfil the interim criteria at all and 2 remained inconclusive. The Commission needs to act fast and set the correct criteria for the regulation of these substances.

However, even the pesticides that fulfil the interim criteria are in the agenda of DG SANTE for extending their period of use. Prolonging a pesticide’s authorization is a regular tactic of the Commission. For ten of the pesticides identified by EFSA as of “critical concern”, DG SANTE is currently considering to extend their authorisation for the second time, since they have already been in the market for more than their 10-years authorization period. 

The report also concludes that -even 4 years after the pesticide regulation has entered into force- several industry dossiers and regulatory risk assessment studies still have major data gaps to assess the endocrine-related adverse effects of pesticides and, as PAN Europe has reported in the past[3], independent literature studies are practically rejected together with the scientific evidence they provide. This is another proof that the risk assessment reports still don’t comply with the Pesticide Regulation 1107/2009 to evaluate substances for endocrine disruption.

PAN Europe stresses that so far the Commission’s DG SANTE has shown a great resistance in applying the Pesticide Regulation in European risk assessment by allowing the abuse of the prolongations, derogations and data gaps. Angeliki Lysimachou, PAN Europe’s toxicologist said: “Exposure to endocrine disruptors is an issue of global concern and EU regulators must take serious actions to limit human and environmental exposure to these harmful chemicals”. 

[1] Pending on the Commission to define the scientific criteria for endocrine disrupters the Interim criteria are in force (1107/2009; Annex II, 3.6.5).

[2] PAN Europe’s position on Commission’s Roadmap. (Option 1, Interim Criteria). http://www.pan-europe.info/old/Resources/Briefings/PANE%20-%202014%20-%20Position%20on%20EDCs-Roadmap.pdf