Azara Blog: Greens cry over European chemical regulation

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Date published: 2005/11/15

The BBC says:

Environmentalists complained on Tuesday that a key European law on the control of chemicals is being watered down.

The Reach chemicals regulation comes up for a vote on Thursday, a week after the parliament's main political groups agreed a business-friendly compromise.

The law demands thousands of chemicals to undergo health tests and to be registered in a central database.

But Greens say last week's compromise means that many chemicals will slip through the net.

"The bill will actually weaken environmental and health protection as we may end up getting no useful data on almost 20,000 chemicals," said Swedish Green MEP Carl Schlyter in a debate in the parliament on Tuesday.

Some MEPs and environmentalists are also concerned that the law will fail to ensure that hazardous chemicals are progressively replaced by safer alternatives - an area unaffected by the compromise between the main conservative and socialist groups of MEPs.

"We especially believe it necessary to promote, as stringently as possible, the principle of substitution - ie that substances identified as being dangerous will progressively be replaced," said Liberal group spokesman on the environment, Chris Davies.

Reach stands to revolutionise the use of chemicals in Europe by putting the onus on business to prove that the chemicals they use are safe.

The European Commission initially proposed that 30,000 chemicals manufactured or imported in volumes of more than one metric ton should undergo tests, at industry's expense.

The compromise between the conservative European People's Party and the Socialist group means that health testing will not be necessary for chemicals manufactured or imported in quantities of less than 10 tonnes - nearly two thirds of the total.

The compromise is also supported by the Liberal group, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Poor Greens, their hysterical anti-chemical crusade seems to have only been partly successful. Of course time will tell what effect the regulations will have in terms of health and employment. (The way the European Union is going every citizen will soon be perfectly healthy and perfectly unemployed.) And when the BBC says the "law demands thousands of chemicals to undergo health tests" what they really mean is that millions of animals will suffer horrible torture and death all to please the anti-chemical lobby.

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