Agrochemical companies accused of hiding the dangerousness of their pesticides from the EU

Some agrochemical companies have deliberately concealed from the European Union certain studies carried out on the pesticides they wanted to market on the continent. It is researchers from the University of Stockholm who reveal this information in the journal Environmental Health this Thursday, June 1 and in particular the serious consequences on brain development.

Pesticide sprinkling in a French agricultural field. (Illustrative image) AFP - PHILIPPE HUGUEN

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These studies carried out by the companies were conducted more than twenty years ago for some and, according to Swedish researchers, they could have changed the situation at the time, pushing European regulators to refuse the authorization of products. Three insecticides and one fungicide, used in particular on tomato, strawberry, potato and eggplant crops, are concerned.

Tested in the early 2000s on laboratory rats - during the pregnancy of females - these four products affected the brains of newborns, changing their size, but also delaying the age of their sexual maturation and weight gain. These studies have indeed been forwarded to the American authorities, but in the European dossier that must be compiled for the approval of the substance, the documents have not been provided.

Data that could have limited the amount of pesticides used

The agrochemical giant Bayer, quoted by the researchers, justifies itself by saying that the European Union had not explicitly requested the results of these studies and that they would not have had an impact, in any case, on the ban on the products. But according to the Swedish researchers who reveal the case, four studies out of the nine that were omitted, could have at least limited their use by playing on the authorized quantity or on the indication of the risks incurred.

To prevent this from happening again, they suggest cross-checking the data available on these substances around the world, and sanctioning the withholding of information on toxicity. Europe delegates this power to national regulators, and to date no such fines have been imposed.

>> Read also: Environment: Europe has efforts to make to reduce the use of pesticides

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