Lobbyists take REACH to the line

As the latest version of proposals to regulate the chemical industry are thrashed out by Euro diplomats, lobbyists from both sides of the fence continue to fight their corner.

The UK has submitted a lengthy list of suggested revisions to the Registration Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) agreement (see related story) which were up for the first round of discussion this week.

While the Government inisists the suggestions were not supposed to represent an ammendment to REACH proposals they appear have been drawn up as a formally-worded legal document.

The UK proposals have been broadly seen as better for business, putting industry before the environment.

A synopsis of the changes can be seen by clicking here.

Predictably their release has been rewarded with a cautious welcome from industry lobbies and anger from environmentalists.

Acting on the back of its report into contamination of babies still in the womb, timed to coincide with the latest round of REACH talks, (see related story), WWF led a group of concerned mothers and their children to Downing street, handing in a petition signed by over 3,000 supporters.

It called for the UK to use its presidency of the EU to push for a strong REACH agreement and not ignore 'gender-bending' endocrine disruptors.

WWF's chemicals and health campaign leader, Colin Butfield, said "European citizens are looking to their governments to make sure hazardous man-made chemicals are assessed for their safety before they are used in consumer products.

"The UK government is intending to weaken the current text of the chemical regulation by allowing hormone disrupting chemicals to slip through the net. We hope this petition will persuade the Prime Minister to promote the health of unborn children over the interests of industry profit."

Meanwhile the British Chemical Distributors Association (BCDTA) has given the 'compromise proposals' a luke warm seal of approval.

"Overall, the UK Presidency's initial thoughts are an improvement on the Commission's proposals and, in many instances, improve the workability of REACH by incorporating some of the changes advocated by BCDTA," said Melvyn Whyte, BCDTA's president.

"In other areas, however, they appear to be raising the compliance bar by widening the scope of REACH and increasing its complexity."

By Sam Bond



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