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WECF Co-organizes Successful Symposium on EDC Policy in the Netherlands

Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, VNO-NCW, VNCI and WECF jointly organize bi-annual mini-symposium on chemicals policy

18.04.2015 |

On 15 April 2015, the bi-annual mini-symposium took place in the Hague, organized by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, VNO-NCW, VNCI and WECF. This time, the focus was on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs). We managed to find prominent speakers from academia, the government, corporate life and civil society organizations (CSOs). 

Scientists warn for health risks of EDCs..
Colette Alma, from the VNCI (branch organization of Dutch chemicals industry), briefly introduced the speakers who discussed the topic from their perspective. Juliëtte Legler, professor in toxicology, gave a brief overview of scientific insights, stressing that there is sufficient scientific evidence that pregnant women and young children are particularly vulnerable to hazardous chemicals and that they should therefore receive extra protection.

.. yet, the government remains hesitant in developing strict regulation
Marieke Kunst, senior policy maker at the Dutch Ministry of Public Health, Well-being and Sports, explained how the Dutch government develops their policy on EDCs. The Dutch government awaits the EU identification criteria for EDCs. In the meantime, the government contributes to the scientific debate by subsidizing more research on this topic.

Pediatrician: “Pregnant women and young children are particularly vulnerable to EDC exposure”
Gavin Ten Tusscher, pediatrician at PVC-free hospital Westfriesgasthuis, elaborated on health risks of EDCs for pregnant women and young children. He explained how differences in their body composition influence their susceptibility to hazardous chemicals, and argued that they should therefore be protected against exposure.

The industry versus NGOs
Hinse Boonstra from BAYER CropScience, a major producer of pesticides, argued that hazard-based regulation hampers the innovation climate of the industry, and advocates instead for risk-based thinking and assessments. Jerker Ligthart, senior chemicals advisor at NGO Chemsec, disagreed and argued that companies cry wolf by presenting misleading figures of regulation costs. Ligthart states that policy makers should stay more updated on scientific insights and look at the societal (health) costs of EDCs.

Sector associations and government have a role to take up
After the presentation of these speakers, there was a panel discussion and a discussion with the audience. WECF director Sascha Gabizon took part in the panel discussion. On the question how we can best support entrepreneurs to avoid EDCs, Gabizon suggested that sector associations and the government have a larger role to play in making information on EDCs and REACH more accessible and easier to interpret for (start-up) entrepreneurs.

This symposium was made possible with DG Environment’s support via the LIFE+ project ChildProtect.

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