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European Commission - Press release

Endocrine disruptors: major step towards protecting citizens and environment

Brussels, 4 July 2017

Today, Member States representatives voted in favour of the European Commission's proposal on scientific criteria to identify endocrine disruptors in the field of plant protection products. This is an important step towards greater protection of citizens from harmful substances.

Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, said: "Today's vote represents our determination to devise a real EU policy on endocrine disruptors. After months of discussion we are advancing in the direction of the first regulatory system in the world with legally binding criteria to define what an endocrine disruptor is. This is a great success. Once implemented, the text will ensure that any active substance used in pesticides which is identified as an endocrine disruptor for people or animals can be assessed and withdrawn from the market. We now count on the support of the European Parliament and the Council, involved in the decision making process, for a smooth adoption and entry into force of the criteria."

The adopted criteria will provide a stepping stone for further actions to protect health and the environment by enabling the Commission to start working on a new strategy to minimise exposure of EU citizens to endocrine disruptors, beyond pesticides and biocides. The strategy will aim to cover for example toys, cosmetics and food packaging. In parallel, a substantive new research on endocrine disruptors with an important budget of approximately 50 million euro will be allocated in 2018 to around 10 projects in the next Horizon 2020 work programme.

As for pesticides and biocides, the Commission will not delay any action and will already apply the criteria to substances for which assessment or re-evaluation is undergoing or for which confirmatory data concerning endocrine properties have been requested.

Background

The criteria endorsed today concerning substances falling within the plant protection products legislation are based on the World Health Organisation (WHO) definition. They identify known and presumed endocrine disruptors. They also specify that the identification of an endocrine disruptor should be carried out by taking into account all relevant scientific evidence including animal, in-vitro or in-silico studies, and using a weight of evidence-based approach. The Commission intends to adopt the same criteria for biocides. This is important because the properties which make a substance an endocrine disruptor do not depend on the use of the substance.

The Commission text foresees that the Commission will present in due time an assessment of the criteria which will also cover the derogation for growth regulators[1] in the light of experience gained.

The criteria will apply after a short transitional period of six months during which the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) - mandated by the Commission – will be finalising a joint guidance document for the implementation of the criteria. An outline was published on 20 December 2016 and a draft guidance document will be available for public consultation in autumn.

The criteria will apply also to the on-going procedures reassessing the substances.

Lastly, a REFIT evaluation on the functioning of the plant protection products EU legislation is underway and its conclusion will pave the way for a probable modification of the overall EU framework.

For more information

Details on the decision making process are available online

Frequently Asked Questions on endocrine disruptors available online

[1] Growth regulators are active substances with specific modes of action targeted at some organisms (e.g. arthropods). From a biological point of view they are not expected to pose a risk to humans and vertebrates in the environment and are therefore particularly effective and useful in integrated pest management.

IP/17/1906

Press contacts:

General public inquiries: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 67 89 10 11 or by email


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