Highlands and Islands Greens
Highlands and Islands Greens

Chemicals Legislation – Public Protection Before Private Profit

Friday, April 9th, 2004

Highlands and Islands MSP Eleanor Scott is to call on the Scottish Parliament and the UK government to take a tough stance on proposed EU chemicals regulations and not let powerful companies dictate the extent of public protection from hazardous chemicals.

Reports of flame-retardants in trout in the Royal Balmoral Estate is just one recent example of chemicals being found in human food – and just one of many harmful pollutants that find their way into the human body with potentially harmful effects.

Dr Eleanor Scott, Highlands and Islands MSP and Party speaker on health, said, “It is vital that this proposed legislation is as tough as possible in protecting public health and the environment, and that the companies who will be affected are not allowed to water down the regulations for the sake of convenience and profits.”

There is growing evidence that hormone-disrupting chemicals and chemicals that accumulate in humans and wildlife could be linked to a range of adverse physiological and mental effects, including effects on reproduction, cancers, genital deformities and neurological and developmental problems.

Dr Scott said, “Exposure to such chemicals must be minimised to protect human health and the environment – that is why last year Greens called on the Scottish Parliament to carry out an inquiry into the matter and make its view known to the UK Parliament and the EU.  Aspects of the proposals – such as the principle of substitution which obliges companies to use a safer, cleaner alternative whenever possible – would go a long way to preventing unnecessary and unwanted toxins entering the environment and the human body.

“Furthermore, this is yet another example of European legislation having a very tangible impact on Scottish people and their environment – so it is crucial that voters exercise their voting rights at the European election in June.”

WWF Scotland has been leading a campaign to ensure that the proposed new EU legislation, known as REACH, is as tough as possible.  The UK Government has launched a public consultation but Britain has a poor record in protecting its citizens against the harmful effects of hazardous chemicals. (1) Other groups backing the campaign include Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the Womenʼs Institute and the Co-operative Bank.

Tomorrow (10 April) will see Professor Malcolm Hooper, chief scientific adviser to the Gulf War Veteransʼ Association, Professor Peter Tasker of Edinburgh University and Matthew Wilkinson of WWFʼs Chemicals and Health campaign lead a debate at Edinburgh’s Royal Museum.

The WWF Scotland/Royal Society of Chemistry Debate will take place at the Royal Museum of Scotland (as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival).


(1) For more on the WWF campaign, see www.wwf.org.uk/chemicals/.


(Note: this item was originally published on Eleanor Scott’s Parliamentary website.)