Study shows firms withheld pesticide toxicity data from EU
German chemicals giant Bayer and Swiss agribusiness firm Syngenta maintained they met all regulatory criteria.
According to a new study by Sweden-based researchers, some large agrochemical corporations failed to report to European Union authorities studies examining the hazardous effects of pesticide components on brain development.
The nine studies, which examined how different pesticide chemical components influenced developmental neurotoxicity (DNT) in rats, were shared with US regulators.
The bulk of the research's sponsors, German chemicals giant Bayer and Swiss agribusiness firm Syngenta, maintained they met all regulatory criteria.
According to the researchers, their study, published in the journal Environmental Health, was the first to attempt to quantify the "recurring phenomenon" of corporations failing to disclose DNT studies to EU regulators.
Co-author of the study Axel Mie of Stockholm University told AFP it was "outrageous and unbelievable" that most of the studies do not make it to the authorities as required by law.
After researchers examined DNT studies filed with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on pesticide chemical compounds in recent decades, they found that 9 of 35 studies from 1993-2015 were not shared with EU authorities.
The research was done on pregnant rats to see if the offspring of those who were exposed to the chemicals had developmental issues.
Findings showed that adult offspring experienced decreased weight gain, delayed sexual development, and worsening motor function.
Four of the nine pesticide chemicals have already been removed from the EU market, while the remaining four are being reviewed, according to Mie.
"There must be legal consequences and serious ones for the companies if they do not follow the law," he stated.
Bayer and Syngenta, who financed three of the studies, both contested the study's findings.
Bayer claimed to AFP that it has "always submitted the necessary studies that were required by the EU regulations at the time," adding that the procedure has evolved over the years.
In response, Syngenta stated that it had "complied with all EU and Swiss data requests," noting that the research in issue was created to suit US regulatory criteria.
According to an EFSA representative, stricter laws in this area went into effect in 2021, requiring firms to share "all safety studies" concerning their goods.
Christina Ruden, the study's co-author, asked EU authorities to cross-check data with the EPA and other agencies, calling this change "low-hanging fruit," adding that the responsibility falls on authorities to "remove the responsibility of testing chemicals from the producers."
While the experiments on rats are not directly relevant to humans, Mie stated that the goal of DNT research is to protect individuals against pollutants that may impact their attention span, focus, coordination, learning, memory, and IQ.
"This is about protecting the brains of our children," Ruden remarked.