GUE/NGL MEPs grilled the Commission and Council on insufficient action to protect public health in the wake of a food scandal that saw millions of contaminated eggs withdrawn from supermarket shelves across Europe last month.
Chicken eggs were found to contain fipronil, an insecticide banned from being used to treat animals destined for human consumption because of its adverse effect on health. Authorities in the Netherlands and Belgium opened criminal investigations against the suppliers of fipronil.
Speaking in this morning’s plenary debate on the topic, Dutch MEP Anja Hazekamp called for a full ban on the use of fipronil:
“The fipronil affair has once again shown that there is something wrong with industrial-scale animal keeping in Europe. Over the past few weeks, 2.5 million chickens have become victims of our sick system.”
“Fipronil is not only harmful to humans and chickens, but also to bees and other pollinating insects. Nevertheless, fipronil is still allowed to be used as a pesticide in European farming.”
“The Commissioner said yesterday that a ban on fipronil would not be possible because that would spell ‘disaster’ for farmers. Does the Commissioner really believe that a ban on fipronil is a greater disaster than the disaster which we have now?”
“I would like to reiterate my proposal to the Commissioner for a complete ban on the use of fipronil in European agriculture to better protect the health of humans and animals in the future,” Hazekamp urged.
GUE/NGL MEP Kateřina Konečná questioned alleged prior knowledge of the scandal by the authorities:
“The Belgian authorities had suspicions about eggs contaminated with fipronil since the beginning of June but only raised the alarm for the first time on the 20th of July. Is this how we want cooperation and consumer protection to work in the EU?”
“Perhaps the spokesperson for the Belgian Government is right and the decision not to disclose the suspicion was in line with European regulations. If so, the regulations must change.”
“However I consider unacceptable the decision of the Belgian government, motivated by a desire to protect businesses at the cost of the health of European citizens. This is absolutely scandalous and it must not be allowed to repeat,” she concluded.