Why is Ireland diluting legislation on banning hormone-changing chemicals?
March 06th 2017
Ireland has been accused of trying to limit EU legislation aimed at reducing the use of harmful chemicals in pesticides. The legislation would help protect people and wildlife.
Endocrine disruptors (EDCs) are capable of having a negative effect on the hormone system. Some cause disruption by preventing the synthesis of the body’s own hormones or by accelerating their breakdown.
There are increases in some human reproductive disorders and some cancers which could be related to disturbance of EDCs and harmful effects have been observed on reproduction, growth and development in certain species of wildlife.
Valerie Flynn from The Times reported that the Irish Department of Agriculture indicated, “it would not back the commission’s proposal without a derogation to allow endocrine disruptors to remain on the market in cases of “negligible risk” to human health and the environment”.
The Department of Agriculture’s reasoning was that, “a reduced range of pesticides, particularly fungicides, could lead to problems with pest resistance” and insisted, “human health and the environment will be the primary concerns”.
Environmentalists aren’t convinced and fear that such an exemption could be manipulated by companies and allow the continued use of dangerous chemicals in pesticides, impacting on both humans and nature.
Weed killers, herbicides and desiccants like glyphosate, more commonly known as Roundup, are used widely in Ireland’s tillage sector and public parks.
Last June, Ireland voted in favour of extending the licence which allowed glyphosate to remain available within the EU’s market.
Approval was granted for 18 months while a review of glyphosate is undertaken to examine how damaging it is to humans and the environment. International Association for Research on Cancer had found that it was, “probably carcinogenic to humans” in a previous study.
The review should be completed by November and is to include public consultation.
The Department of Agriculture has refuted speculation that they had reversed their decision to halt the use of glyphosate on food crops because of influence from industry lobbying.
The Irish Examiner’s, Caroline O’ Doherty reported in her article last week that emails and letters, released under the Freedom of Information Act, show that the Irish Feed and Grain Association and multinational chemical company, Monsanto had met with the Department about this issue.
“They objected to Ireland’s decision to ban the use of glyphosate on crops for human consumption, in line with recommendations by the European Commission, which is wondering whether to extend the chemical’s clearance for use in the EU. The department subsequently watered down its plans for a voluntary ban and a prohibition on spraying in some circumstances, but it said yesterday that it acted in the public interest.”
Ireland’s reversal and stance on this issue has been met with protest.
“If it’s in the soil, it’s in the food” warned Patrick Holden, former chairperson of the Soil Association and Green Party Cllr, Ossian Smyth wants Roundup banned on local authority properties considering it, “a sensible precaution until we better understand the effect of Roundup on human health and biodiversity.”
Currently, a European Citizen Initiative is calling for glyphosate to be banned in the EU. Find the petition by clicking here.
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