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WECF alerts EU Ministers of Health and EU Commissioners on pesticides

Letter emphasises the need to eliminate the most hazardous pesticides from the EU food chain in order to protect our most vulnerable groups from reproductive and developmental harm.

02.05.2008 |Chantal van den Bossche




Dear Ministers,

Re: The need to eliminate the most hazardous
pesticides from the EU food chain in order to protect our most vulnerable
groups from reproductive and developmental harm.

 I am writing to request your support for the European Commissionís proposal to eliminate the most hazardous pesticides from the EU food chain.

The Commissionís amended proposal for a Regulation on pesticides (11 March 2008) sets out specific measures to eliminate dietary exposure to 23 of the most hazardous pesticides present in EU food products. These chemicals, which account for less than 5% of pesticides currently available to European farmers, include known carcinogens, mutagens, reprotoxins and endocrine disruptors Ė pesticides for which there is no safe level of dietary exposure.

In light of the sustained and aggressive lobbying initiatives of the pesticides industry on this issue, I would urgently draw your attention to the following:

  • The 23 pesticides which the Commission proposes to eliminate from EU food products are all EU classified carcinogens, mutagens, reprotoxins or endocrine disruptors and represent less that 5% of the 507 pesticides approved for use in the European Community. The health impacts of these chemicals on the developing embryo, foetus and infants are potentially irreversible and in some cases multi-generational.  Many of these pesticides have already been withdrawn by a broad spectrum of European Member States.

A substantial body of scientific evidence demonstrates the negative health impacts of low dose dietary exposure to hazardous pesticides. Pesticides with known carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic properties are of particular concern. At low concentrations such chemicals can evade the bodyís cellular defence mechanisms, thus doing more damage to human biological systems than when present at higher doses. Endocrine disruptors are also known to be active at extremely low concentrations , can cross the placenta and end up in human breast milk. They may cause severe harm to the embryo, the foetus and the infant throughout the developmental period.

  • Up to 22% of food items analysed under the EUís 2007 coordinated food monitoring programme contained residues of the 23 hazardous pesticides which the Commission proposes to eliminate from the food chain. Such pesticides are listed as common food contaminants in all European Member States. Fruits and vegetables are affected the worst.
  • Since 1993, some 129 new pesticides have been introduced to the European Union. Very few of these new compounds are among those proposed for elimination. The Commissionís proposals hold the potential only to remove a relatively small number of predominantly older active substances; an approach which is both progressive and proportional.
  • Europe cannot afford the cost of inaction. Public Health and the economy will both suffer if increasing numbers of the population are forced to battle chronic illnesses, reproductive obstacles and produce offspring with lower IQs.

Given the substantial negative health impacts associated with dietary exposure to hazardous pesticides, the special prevalence of these substances within the EU food chain, and the extreme vulnerability of the embryo, foetus and infant to these hazards,  Women In Europe For A Common Future urges all Representatives within the Council of Ministers to support the Commissionís proposals for the elimination of such pesticides from EU food products.

Thank you for your consideration of these matters within the context of the Council discussion on the proposed Regulation on pesticides.

 Please do not hesitate to contact me should you wish for further information.

 Yours Sincerely,

Sascha Gabizon

International Director, WECF