For more than two decades, the EU has debated how to protect its consumers against endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Evidence links EDCs to a range of diseases and disorders, such as infertility and cancer. Yet consumers are still exposed to these everyday toxicants through the food we eat and the products we use.
Product tests by consumer groups across Europe illustrate how ubiquitous EDCs are in our daily lives. One in three paper food wraps analysed by our French member organisation UFC Que-Choisir contained high levels of fluorinated chemicals with suspected endocrine-disrupting effects. Forbrugerrådet TÆNK Kemi, our member from Denmark, found suspected endocrine disruptors in 11 out of 55 tested mascaras. And that’s just the tip of the EDC iceberg.
Too little, too late
The Juncker Commission has shown a disappointing lack of leadership on EDCs. So, it was welcome news when last November the Commission released a strategy to minimise our exposure to these harmful chemicals. The plan is to improve our scientific understanding and to encourage dialogue, including with citizens. But how will the Commission go about reducing exposure to EDCs and better protecting consumers – and when?
Strangely enough, the Commission provides no answers, as the strategy contains neither policy measures nor timelines. True, the Commission announces a “comprehensive screening of existing legislation”. But a review will not actually reduce our exposure…