Health groups call on the leaders of the Western Balkan countries to harmonize national air quality standards with the World Health Organization Global air quality guidelines. Health experts should be actively involved in these decision-making processes to ensure the timely integration of public health measures into environmental policies. Compliance with WHO recommendations brings multiple benefits – reduced incidence of chronic diseases and premature deaths, reduced overall health costs and, most importantly, better health and higher productivity of people.
[This letter was sent to all members of the European Parliament Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety on 18 October 2017]
Dear Member of the European Parliament,
As a membership network of over 70 public interest organisations aiming to promote and protect people’s health through environmental action, the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) welcomes the European Parliament (EP) opportunity to have a say on the European Commission proposal for renewal of the authorisation of glyphosate on the EU market.
On Thursday 19th October, the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety of the European Parliament will discuss a motion for resolution to object the European Commission proposal to reauthorize glyphosate in Europe for another ten years. We are urging you to support this motion in order to honour previous commitments taken by the European Parliament and prioritise health and cancer prevention.
As a member of the environment committee, your voice is absolutely critical for the following reasons:
• Glyphosate is currently the world’s most used herbicide in the world and human exposure to the substance has continuously increased over the last 30 years. Traces of glyphosate have not only been found in the bodies of all individuals tested for its presence (1), but also in numerous food items consumed by the majority of the European population on a daily basis (2). There are numerous scientific studies on its potential harm (3).
• European top soils are contaminated with glyphosate, (4) and evidence is mounting that demonstrates that this chemical persists longer in the environment than previously thought. This is particularly concerning because soil contamination also affects the food that farmers cultivate and that we eat.
• In March 2015, the World Health Organisation (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans”. It is worth repeating that IARC is considered to be the gold standard when it comes to identifying carcinogens. Its research was carried out by a working group of 17 scientists free of conflicts of interests on the basis on the systematic assembly and review of all publicly available evidence relevant to the carcinogenicity of glyphosate (5). The European agencies EFSA and ECHA found that glyphosate is not carcinogenic, mostly based on studies provided by the industry and not available in the public domain. Meanwhile serious questions about the influence of Monsanto – which has strong commercial interests in keeping glyphosate on the European market, because of its use in the mixture of his best seller herbicide, Roundup – on the European carcinogenicity assessment of glyphosate have emerged and remain unanswered to date. The European Parliament should demand that these questions are answered and the European assessment of glyphosate is re-opened so that an informed discussion on the re-authorisation of the substance can take place (6).
Against this background, the European Parliament should demand that the European Commission proposal at least respects the EP resolution from April 2016 (7). This resolution called for: a renewed approval for a period for only seven years, and that glyphosate should not be used for non-professional uses in or close to public parks, public playgrounds and public gardens. These demands are an absolute minimum in order to reduce citizens’ exposure to toxic chemicals and promote a transition towards a more sustainable agriculture.
Finally, we urge you to take into account the ever-growing concerns of citizens and public health voices in relation to the continued use of glyphosate. This is illustrated by the 1.3 million signatures to the European Citizens Initiative to stop glyphosate and reform the European pesticides authorisation system (8) as well as increasing calls from cancer organisations – including in France, Belgium, Malta, Portugal and the UK – to promote health protection by reducing or eliminating glyphosate use (9).
On 19th October, we trust that you will prioritize the health of citizens and future generations by supporting the objection to the European Commission proposal.
We remain available for any question that you might have.
Natacha Cingotti, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), firstname.lastname@example.org, +32 (0)2 234 36 45
3. See consensus scientific statement: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/ar…
7. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides… ; http://www.env-health.org/resources…