04 October 2005 18:03 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS news)--Environmental groups largely welcomed on Tuesday amendments proposed by the European Parliament's Environment Committee to Reach, the European Union's controversial chemicals policy.
The Committee, the lead EP body that takes Reach to a plenary session of the parliament, agreed many compromise amendments to the daft proposed by the European Commission (EC).
Environmental groups said they were pleased to see MEPs (members of the European Parliament) on the committee support the mandatory substitution of hazardous chemicals with safer alternatives, when these are available.
"This requirement is essential to end the build-up of harmful chemicals in our bodies and the environment," they said.
"For substitution to work, however, it is essential to obtain basic safety information about chemicals for which we lack data on the environmental and health impacts, which Reach is supposed to deliver. At present we lack this basic information on 90% of chemicals," they added.
"The groups therefore regret that the feeble compromise on lower volume chemicals (produced in volumes of 1-10 tonnes per year), adopted by the committee - under intense pressure from industry – leaves dangerous gaps in the provision of safety information," the groups said in a statement issued by their umbrella organisation, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB).
"A Reach adopted on this basis would not deliver the health and environment protection the public expects, as it would leave thousands of lower volume chemicals without basic toxicity data and so would hamper the identification of potentially harmful chemicals, such as hormone disruptors," they said.
Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) also welcomed the Committee's amendments including compulsory data sharing and a commitment to using alternatives to tests on animals. It warned, however, that there was a long way to go before its concerns are allayed, adding that Reach proposals could still potentially mean that millions of animals suffer.
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