McGuinness calls for fast-track legislation on ‘endocrine disruptors’

“Urgent action” is needed to improve farmer and public safety on potentially hazardous chemicals in pesticides, MEP Mairead McGuinness has warned.

The call follows a vote in the European Parliament today, which rejected a European Commission proposal on using World Health Organisation criteria as the basis for identifying “endocrine disruptors” – chemicals that may interfere with the body’s hormone system.

The Fine Gael MEP, and vice president of the European Parliament, said the current situation is “insufficient” to address public concerns over chemicals that can have a negative impact on animal and human health.

Speaking from Strasbourg, McGuinness said: “There is a specific issue around endocrine disruptors used in agriculture, specifically in crop production.

We need the commission to put forward legislation on this issue, as demanded some eight years ago by the European Parliament under the Pesticides Regulation. However, the issue is a wider one that cannot just be addressed at EU level.

McGuinness is calling for international agreement on what chemicals are endocrine disruptors and whether they should be completely removed from use in agriculture.

“It is not enough for the EU to tighten up our legislation if we do not encourage non-EU crop producers to do likewise,” she said.

“The EU imports crops from across the globe – often grown using products not allowed in the EU or products which may in future be banned. If a chemical is harmful in the EU, it is harmful elsewhere and we should work to have high global standards.

“Farmers inside and outside the EU need the same level of protection and so do consumers. There is an opportunity to address this in our trade relationships with other countries,” added McGuinness, who sits on both of the European Parliament’s Environment and Agriculture Committees.