Friends of the Earth Europe
November 10, 2005


Brussels -- The European chemical industry has been progressively
weakening the European Chemicals Reform (REACH), contrary to its
publicly voiced support for the legislative proposal according to a
report released today by Friends of the Earth Europe.

The study entitled "Profits before health and environment: how the
chemical industry is undermining European chemical legislation"
reveals that CEFIC -- the European Chemical Industry Council -- and
its members are more than happy to sacrifice the protection of human
health and the environment for the sake of financial benefits, despite
claiming that they are committed to transparency, sustainability and
consumer care.

Based on a survey of 31 CEFIC corporate members on their attitudes
towards REACH-related issues -- such as substitution and phasing out
of chemicals of very high concern or consumers' right to know about
chemicals in products they purchase -- the report concludes that the
public statements made by industry are misleading, to say the least.

Despite commitments to transparency, hardly any company answered
questions on consumers' right to information or which risky chemicals
they produce or use. Many CEFIC members said they were unwilling to
phase out chemicals "of very high concern", or substitute them with
safer alternatives. This stands in direct contradiction to claims
about sustainability and product stewardship. The companies are
equally reluctant to provide basic safety information on substances
they produce.

The Chemical industry has also grossly exaggerated its inability to
pay for REACH, in disregard of the legislation's potential health and
environmental benefits, according to the study. The cost of
regulation, which amounts to a mere 0.05% of the sector's annual
sales, stands in stark contrast to the sector's self-congratulatory
statements about high profits. Most companies presented excellent
figures for 2004 with BP reporting record financial results, Bayer
exceeding its targets for sales and earnings, DuPont reporting its
fastest annual growth in recent years and BASF earning a premium.

The report, released a week before the crucial vote on REACH by the
European Parliament, discloses that Members of the European Parliament
have been subject to intense lobbying from CEFIC and its members.

"The industry has been pushing parliamentarians to weaken REACH almost
to the point of destruction. It is alarming and saddening to see
members of the European Parliament giving in to demands of big
corporations and ignoring public health and the environment" said Paul
de Clerck, Friends of the Earth Europe Corporate Accountability

Environmental, health, and consumer NGOs are urging MEPs to strengthen
REACH in the plenary vote by supporting

* controls on, and replacement of, the most hazardous chemicals at
authorization and substitution phase,

* provision of basic safety information for all chemicals at
registration phase and

* the right to know for consumers and retailers.

This is the only way REACH can fulfill its aim of protecting human
health and the environment while maintaining the competitiveness of
European industry, the environmental campaign group said.


Paul de Clerck
Coordinator Corporate Campaign FoE International and FoE Europe
c/o Friends of the Earth Europe
Rue Blanche 15
1050 Brussels, Belgium
Phone: 32-2-5420180 or -5426107 (direct)
Skype: pauldeclerck1