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New Report Calls for Consistent Criteria to Identify EDCs Across All EU Laws

A report by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and ClientEarth calls for the European Commission (EC) to take a cross-sectoral approach when applying proposed criteria for the identification of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), such that these criteria would also apply to food-contact materials. The report, titled, Disrupted Criteria, The criteria to identify endocrine disruptors: Implications beyond pesticides and biocides, was published in February 2017.

By way of background, the EC proposed in June 2016 two draft legal acts that establish criteria to identify endocrine disruptors, one under the Biocidal Products legislation and the other under the Plant Protection Products legislation. Revised versions were published in November 2016 (for more information on the draft legal acts, see the EC website). At the same time that the original draft legal acts were published, the EC also asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to begin evaluating if approved substances that show indications of being endocrine disruptors can be identified as endocrine disruptors according to the criteria in the draft legal acts. In December 2016, EFSA and ECHA published an outline of the Guidance they are developing on how to identify substances with endocrine disrupting properties in pesticides and biocides (an announcement about the outline can be found on EFSA’s website).

According to the authors, the report demonstrates that the EC’s draft legal acts on establishing criteria to identify endocrine disruptors could “[l]ead to inconsistencies between the EDCs identified under the Pesticides and Biocides Regulations and those identified under other regulatory frameworks.”  They continue to point out that this approach may lead to a lower level of protection from EDCs, particularly for uses in consumer products, such as food-contact materials, cosmetics, and toys. CIEL and ClientEarth called on the EC to amend the proposed draft criteria “to ensure they are applicable across all relevant EU law.”  

This is not the first time that the need for cross-sectoral criteria for EDCs has been raised.  The European Parliament (EP), in its Resolution of October 6, 2016, on the implementation of the Food Contact Regulation (EC) No 1925/2005, highlighted with respect to EDCs “the need for horizontal criteria for all products, including FCMs,”  and the EP, at that time, called on the EC to present such criteria without delay.