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Is REACH good enough?

The European Parliament has approved REACH, the new EU chemicals law, but most environmental organizations that have been involved are afraid that REACH will protect both our health and the environment in Europe poorly.

There was great excitement ahead of the November 17 Parliament session. Within two hours, 600 MEPs were to vote on just over 1.000 different amendments to the proposal tabled by the European Commission.

Well-organized business interests have for several years conducted a targeted campaign to weaken REACH as much as possible, and the proposal to the European Commission was therefore far weaker than the proposal it had originally proposed.

The European Parliament's decision weakens the Commission's proposal on important points, but on other points there are some environmental victories.

Worse than the Commission

The parliamentary majority reduced the number of tests for chemicals produced or imported in quantities from 10 to 100 tonnes a year. And for chemicals in quantities between one and 10 tonnes, users – and consumers – receive far less information than what the European Commission proposed.

These weaknesses were adopted because the Social Democrats agreed with the right side (the Conservatives in the EPP and the Liberals in the ALDE) to save the chemical industry from spending.

There are over 17.000 chemicals that are released on the market in quantities between one and 10 tonnes per year. The decision in Parliament means that manufacturers and importers do not have to control the health and environmental hazards of 90 per cent of these chemicals.

Food and feed are exempt

The food industry achieved that food and feed were kept outside REACH – and received support from the European Commission. . .

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