Economic benefits of tighter controls for endocrine disruptors outweigh hypothetical trade effects

June 18, 2014


Today, a study by HEAL showed that endocrine- or hormone-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) may be responsible for 31 billion Euros in costs borne by EU taxpayers. This amount radically overshadows hypothetical, worst-case scenario estimates cited by the pesticide industry of trade impacts from stronger measures to protect human health and the environment.

If US health costs are anywhere near those projected for the EU, this new study helps to dispel the myth posited by industry that action to protect human health and the environment from EDCs would be economically disastrous on either side of the Atlantic. CropLife America, representing pesticide manufacturers, estimated the trade impacts from the regulation of EDCs on US agricultural exporters at $4 billion, and warned the EU that such regulation “threatens to imperil” the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Past studies have shown estimated revenue impacts of stronger environmental and public health measures, such as the criteria for endocrine disruptors, to be consistently inaccurate and overblown. Today’s study illustrates why “trade-impact” assessment of new laws under TTIP would be misleading, among several other concerns.

EDCs are chemicals that interfere with the normal functioning of hormone systems. Over 200 pesticides have been identified with endocrine disrupting properties, with the World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Environment Program (UNEP) stating that we have only examined the “tip of the iceberg” i.e. a small fraction of hundreds of thousands of synthetic chemicals. In 2012, chemical manufacturers and over 120 countries, including the US and EU, recognized by consensus the “…potential adverse effects of endocrine disruptors on human health and the environment [and] … the need to protect humans, and ecosystems and their constituent parts that are especially vulnerable.”

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