Good news at the end of the year: Barcelona says goodbye to glyphosate!
- ACTIONS AGAINST EDCS, ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS EDC,GLYPHOSATE,PESTICIDES
- ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTANTS,ENDOCRINE DISRUPTOR,GLYPHOSATE
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We leave the year 2015 with very good news: both the City Council and the Provincial Council of Barcelona have unanimously decided to eliminate the use of glyphosate herbicide in their green areas, in response to motions submitted by several organizations, including Ecologistas en Acción.
And it’s great news because it will reduce the population’s exposure to a hormone contaminant that scientific studies link to subacute and chronic contoxicity, sperm abnormalities and reproductive disorders, and has been declared a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization. The groups most vulnerable to its effects are children, pregnant women and the chronically ill. It also seriously affects natural ecosystems, as it is highly water-soluble and passes into severely contaminated aquifers.
Monsanto’s patent on glyphosate, the famous “Roundup”, expired in 2000, but its active ingredient is still on the market under many brands. In our environment, the use of this herbicide is common at supposedly “controlled” doses, to kill “weeds” and shrubs in gardens, children’s areas, roads or railway tracks. But, we already know that for an endocrine disruptor (EDC) there is no safe dose and the data show its presence in our aquifers (11 Catalan aquifers are contaminated, with average concentrations of 0.11 µg/L), in our bodies (in urine and in breast milk), and even in the air, without the population having been aware of the risks.
In places of industrial agriculture, with GMOs resistant to this herbicide, glyphosate is extensively sprayed, causing serious damage to the local population, such as birth defects and cancer, among others (see study of soybean cultivation in Argentina). Glyphosate from these crops reaches us as residue in food or in materials such as cotton.
There are viable alternatives
In our municipalities, there are simple and ecological alternatives to the use of glyphosate. More and more city councils are accepting motions like the one presented in Barcelona and are committing themselves to developing ecological gardening, without chemical pesticides, with more human work and avoiding species not adapted to the environment. They are also committing themselves to carry out information campaigns to avoid the private use of these pesticides and to study the effects on the health of gardening and agricultural professionals, who are those who suffer the greatest exposure. In fact, the Barcelona Parks and Gardens Works Council has been one of the promoters of the motion.
As with so many other health and environmental problems (dimensions that are absolutely linked), the civil population is taking the necessary steps to eliminate this toxic from their environment in the face of the lack of action by the Spanish and European authorities on hormonal contaminants (suffice it to recall the judgment of the Commission for its lack of action against hormonal contaminants in biocides and the embarrassing action of the EFSA in reference to glyphosate, both of which are collected in two posts in this blog).
Campaign for glyphosate-free municipalities
We want the fight against chemical pollution to be an objective by 2016. The first step will be the fight against glyphosate in our towns and cities, for which we will give information on our blog about its toxicity, legal developments, as well as model motions that you can present in your town halls.
But we want glyphosate to be the spearhead to make known other pesticides that remain as residues in our food, water or air and to develop an ecological agriculture.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about how to submit a motion to your local council, or if you would like any information.
Motion submitted to Barcelona City Council
Motion submitted to the Diputació de Barcelona
Finally some good campaign news!
Yesterday the European Parliament adopted by a large majority (603 votes in favour, 86 against, 5 abstentions) a resolution calling on the committee not to authorise the further manufacture of recycled PVC articles containing DEHP: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+TA+P8-TA-2015-0409+0+DOC+PDF+V0//EN
The resolution is not binding but it is an important call to the Commission, on the need to regulate CDEs.
The decision on this authorisation for the use of DEHP in recycled PVC is taken by the Commission after hearing the scientific committees of ECHA (the Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) and the Socio-Economic Assessment Committee, which is in favour of the authorisation). The Commission now has to listen to the REACH Committee (composed of representatives of the Member States).
The latter Committee is meeting from 8 to 10 December to decide on this authorisation and also to decide whether 4 phthalates (DEHP, DIBP, DBP, BBP) are considered to be EDC for human health. Consideration as DDC would facilitate their restriction in all consumer articles.
The latter issue has already been discussed in previous REACH Committee meetings and unfortunately Spain has blocked, together with Italy, Germany and the UK, to be considered as CVD.
Today we have sent out a press release on this (see below), which we would be grateful if you could disseminate, to increase the pressure on the Ministry of Health.
Chemical Policy Officer of Ecologistas en Acción
26 November 2015
Ecologists in Action asks the Health Ministry not to block the regulation of four phthalates, important hormonal pollutants
In a letter sent to the Deputy Director General of Public Health, Ms. Micaela García Tejedor, Ecologistas en Acción has asked the Ministry of Health to support, like most European countries, the consideration and regulation of four phthalates (DEHP, DIBP, DBP and BBP) as hormone disrupters
Phthalates are a group of toxic chemicals that cause damage to human reproductive health. Because of the ability of four of these substances (DEHP, DIBP, DBP and BBP) to alter the hormonal system, Denmark has proposed that these substances be considered and regulated in Europe as hormone disruptors (also called endocrine disruptors or EDCs).
Phthalates are plasticisers used in all kinds of consumer articles, especially those made of PVC (textiles, footwear, furniture, garden articles, etc). They are also found in paints, cosmetic products and fragrances.
The European body that decides whether they are considered hormone disrupters is the REACH Committee, where all Member States are represented. At its last meeting in October 2015, the Committee approved the consideration of DEHP as an endocrine disruptor for the environment, but the rejection by Spain, represented by the Ministry of Health, together with Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, formed a blocking minority, so the Danish proposal, supported by the rest of the Union countries, could not be approved.
All Member States recognise that DEHP is a hormone disruptor for both wildlife and human health. The Ministry of Health justifies its rejection on the grounds that these substances are already regulated for their reproductive toxicity and therefore no further regulation is necessary.
However, the consideration of a substance as a hormone disruptor is of great importance when regulating them in the European Union. Unlike substances that are toxic to reproduction, DEs are considered to have no safe exposure threshold and therefore the only way to reduce exposure of the population and the environment is to eliminate them. In fact, Denmark and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) are preparing a proposal to restrict these four phthalates, which they will submit in early 2016.
If they are considered to be hormone disrupters, the restriction of these phthalates will be much easier than if only their effects are considered to be toxic to reproduction, since the effects related to their endocrine disrupting properties (breast and testicular cancer, developmental damage to the neurological system and damage to the immune system, among others) will be taken into account.
Several studies have highlighted the high exposure of the Spanish population to these substances. According to the European biomonitoring study Democophes, Spanish children have DEHP levels 150% higher than the European average, only lower than the levels present in children in Romania, Poland and the Slovak Republic.
The main practical consequence of the Ministry of Health’s refusal to consider the four phthalates as DEHP substances is that their restriction will be made more difficult and, therefore, imports of consumer articles containing these toxins will be facilitated. We therefore call on the Spanish authorities to support the consideration of fatlates as substances that alter the hormonal system of human beings during the next meeting of the REACH Committee, which will take place from 5 to 10 December.
Further information: Dolores Romano, Head of Chemicals, Ecologistas en Acción, 659 821 344