Last week, our @marietouss1 called for an inquiry committee to ensure health safety & transparency.
We need all groups to support an inquiry into this serious issue. pic.twitter.com/vAMrtbODBn
— Greens/EFA in the EU Parliament 🌍 (@GreensEFA) June 12, 2023
People have known about how deadly these pesticides are since at least the 1970s.
The pesticide companies Bayer and Syngenta have been excoriated in a European parliament hearing after failing to disclose studies on the brain toxicity of their products.
European regulators said the companies had breached legal obligations and behaved unethically. MEPs questioning executives from the companies said their actions had been “outrageous” and represented a “scandal”. The companies rejected the accusations and said they had provided all relevant studies.
The withholding of nine brain toxicity studies from European regulators over the last 20 years was revealed by the Guardian in June, reporting findings from Swedish academics. They discovered that these toxicity studies had been submitted to the US pesticide regulator but not to the EU authorities.
“These studies are performed in order to protect our children and grandchildren from effects on brain development,” said Dr Axel Mie, of Stockholm University, who led the research.
He told a special hearing in the European parliament on Tuesday: “If a company decides by themselves which studies to disclose and which ones to withhold, it is obvious that the decisions by the [regulatory] authorities become unreliable.” He said risk management decisions had been delayed by 18 years in one case.
Officials from the European Commission, the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), all of which have a role in pesticide regulation, thanked Mie and his colleague Prof Christina Rudén for their “important” and “valuable” work.
“We considered [the withholding of the studies] a breach of the legal obligations of those companies and a matter of very serious concern,” said Claire Bury, the commission’s deputy director-general for health and food safety.
“All studies are essential to have available to the regulator, irrespective of the outcome of them,” said Sharon McGuinness at ECHA. “It helps us make a robust assessment and ultimately protects citizens and the environment.”
Bernhard Url, at EFSA, called the companies’ behaviour “unethical” and said: “Industry judges the relevance [of the toxicity studies] in a way that we would most likely not agree with.”
MEPs were scathing about the companies. The Swedish MEP Emma Wiesner, a member of the European parliament’s committee on the environment, public health and food safety, said: “The behaviour found in this study is really unacceptable. More than a quarter of the studies [sent to US authorities] were not sent into the European agencies – that is outrageous.”
The Lithuanian MEP Juozas Olekas said the companies had caused themselves “reputational damage”, while Martin Häusling, a German MEP and member of the agriculture committee, said: “This is a right old scandal. These [are] clear breaches of existing law and previous law. And yet there are no consequences.”
It is a right old scandal.
It’s just ridiculous, how corrupt democracy is.