New on ISN: EU Safety Institutions Caught Plotting an Industry “escape route” Around Looming Pesticide Ban

Independent Science News has just published “EU Safety Institutions Caught Plotting an Industry “escape route” Around Looming Pesticide Ban” by Jonathan Latham, PhD, Executive Director of the Bioscience Resource Project.

Synopsis: Documents obtained by the nonprofit Pesticide Action Network (PAN) of Europe reveal that the health commission of the European Union (DG SANCO), which is responsible for protecting public health, is attempting to develop a procedural “escape route” to help companies evade an upcoming EU-wide ban on endocrine disrupting pesticides. This ban arose from strong scientific concerns over endocrine disrupting chemicals in food and the environment. As discovered by PAN Europe, DG SANCO is working with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to construct a technical loophole that would allow these chemicals to stay on the market. The discovery of a secret plan is troubling for many reasons. It implies the leadership of the EU, and even its specific safety institutions, would rather ignore scientific knowledge, endanger the public, and disregard the democratic decision-making process, than go against the wishes of the chemical industry. The article quotes Science Director of The Bioscience Resource Project, Allison Wilson, PhD, “The public will be astounded and appalled to find that the institutions tasked with protecting them are secretly working against them. EFSA has shown itself to be untrustworthy and should be disbanded. Deep rethinking appears necessary since it is not only the EU that has failed to construct institutions capable of safely regulating toxic substances. Perhaps we should question the wisdom of economies dependent on synthetic chemicals and high risk products.”

Read the full article on ISN: EU Safety Institutions Caught Plotting an Industry “escape route” Around Looming Pesticide Ban.

More on the systemic nature of regulatory failure in the EU and USA:

Myers, John Peterson, et al. “Why Public Health Agencies Cannot Depend on Good Laboratory Practices as a Criterion for Selecting Data: The Case of Bisphenol A.” Environmental Health Perspectives 117.3 (2009): 309-315.
The estrogenic chemical BPA is used extensively in food and drink packaging. Hundreds of peer-reviewed studies show harmful effects of BPA at low doses. Yet the EPA and the European Food Safety Authority disregard them all because they are not certified as GLP (Good Laboratory Practice). Instead, they have declared BPA to be safe based on two industry studies. These studies are GPA but they are dangerously flawed. The authors demonstrate why “public health decisions should be based on studies using appropriate protocols and the most sensitive assays. They should not be based on criteria that include or exclude data depending on whether or not the studies use GLP. Simply meeting GLP requirements is insufficient to guarantee scientific reliability and validity.”

Wagner, Wendy, and David Michaels. “Equal Treatment for Regulatory Science: Extending the Controls Governing the Quality of Public Research to Private Reseach.” Am. JL & Med. 30 (2004): 119.
Worrisome evidence of compromised private research is effectively ignored as the “sound science” reforms take aim primarily at publicly funded research.” This paper is essential reading for anyone interested in scientific risk assessment; the types of flaws found in industry data; how industry controls data production and suppresses adverse results; unequal scrutiny of industry vs. public sector data; the misuse of CBI (confidential business information); and how to combat these pernicious and pervasive problems. Eye-opening data and analysis.

Snyder, Caroline. “The Dirty Work of Promoting  “Recycling” of America’s Sewage SludgeInternational Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health 11.4 (2005): 415-427.
This powerful article documents how the EPA has joined with the Sludge industry to promote the farmland application of toxic sewage sludge. EPA and industry tactics include attacking and suppressing the research of independent scientists; funding industry-friendly science; and defending data known to be fraudulent. EPA uses tax-payer money to promote the use of toxic sludge on farmland and cover up its harmful effects. Rather than fund epidemiological or ecological studies into the harmful effects of farmland application, EPA funds workshops to explore whether illnesses reported by sludge victims are “psychosomatic”. Even the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has caved in to industry pressure, whitewashing known sludge hazards in its 2002 report Biosolids Applied to the Land. Snyder’s article shows that EPA and sludge industry PR follow the playbook of other “product defense” campaigns.

Robinson, Claire, et al. “Conflicts of Interest at the European Food Safety Authority Erode Public Confidence.” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 67.9 (2013): 717-720.
This paper outlines EFSA regulators’ numerous conflicts with the public interest and demands five key reforms. These are explained and include an end to reliance on industry-funded research for risk assessment and wider participation and greater transparency in the risk assessment process.

David L. Pelletier.”FDA’s regulation of genetically engineered foods: Scientific, legal and political dimensionsFood Policy 31 (2006) 570–591.
Pelletier discusses how the FDA decided on its regulatory policy for GMOs, which remains in place today. “This paper reveals that the FDA responded to political pressure for a permissive regulatory approach by exploiting gaps in scientific knowledge, creatively interpreting existing food law and limiting public involvement in the policy’s development.” Pelletier documents the unscientific basis of GMO regulation, revealing the contrast between government and industry assurances that GMO regulation is science based and stringent and that GMOs are “safe” and the actual situation, which continues to be one of “great uncertainty“, due to the lack of a “major public research effort.”

Meyer, Hartmut, and Angelika Hilbeck. “Rat Feeding Studies with Genetically Modified Maize – a Comparative Evaluation of Applied Methods and Risk Assessment StandardsEnvironmental Sciences Europe 25.1 (2013): 1-11.
In this important review of GMO risk assessment methods, Meyer and Hilbeck documented bias in the way that EFSA regulators evaluated the controversial rat feeding study research carried out by Seralini et al. (2012). In addition, they identified inappropriate laboratory practices that are commonplace in GMO studies. These practices compromise research integrity, often by introducing an industry favorable bias. See also: Researchers Uncover Multiple Sources of Bias in GMO Risk Assessments.

TEDX: The Endocrine Disruption Exchange
“The only organization that focuses primarily on the human health and environmental problems caused by low-dose and/or ambient exposure to chemicals that interfere with development and function, called endocrine disruptors.” Endocrine disruptors include plastics, pesticides, and many other synthetic chemicals used in industry and found in the home. Informative website also links to research papers and has a searchable data base.