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Europe moves to ban two endocrine disrupting herbicides

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Staff writer ▼ | April 21, 2016
The EU Commission has made the unprecedented move of restricting two herbicides over their potential to disrupt human hormone systems, but campaigners fear other "endocrine disruptors" will remain on the market.
Safety   Amitrole has been linked to damage in unborn children
Last week, the Commission proposed a ban on the herbicides Amitrole and Isoproturon at a meeting of the Standing Committee on Phytopharmaceuticals.

The two actives are thought to have endocrine disrupting properties (effects on hormone systems which can lead to cancers or adverse effects on reproduction). EU pesticide regulations from 2009 dictate that such pesticides shouldn’t be allowed on the market.

Responding to the Commission’s proposals, the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) said it “applauds” the action taken, but highlighted examples of other potential endocrine disruptors which are still on the market, having had regulatory decisions repeatedly delayed, in some cases since as long ago as 2011.

PAN suggested that the Commission’s health office (DG SANTE) is delaying the decisions until new exemption clauses come into force, which could allow continued use of endocrine disruptors through derogations for "negligible exposure" and "serious danger to plant health”.

PAN said the organisation is concerned that “DG SANTE may try to completely water-down the rules [on endocrine disruptors], reinstall traditional risk assessment and avoid any banning of such pesticides in future.”

Amitrole is a triazole herbicide used on non-food crops in ten EU countries, including the UK, and Isoproturon is used to tackle grass weeds and broad-leaf weeds in cereal crops.

Amitrole has been linked to damage in unborn children, reduced fertility and thyroid cancer. Isoproturon has been linked to effects on sex hormones.