Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA) adopts its INI report on strengthening Europe in the fight against cancer

15 December 2021

On December 9th, 2021, the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA) adopted its INI report on how to strengthen the EU’s role in fighting cancer. The report is to be voted on during the Strasbourg plenary in February.

In this report, the Committee advocates for a stronger EU commitment to implement policies that effectively tackle the sources and social determinants of cancer. The BECA Committee notably promotes measures to reach a ‘tobacco-free generation’ and fight alcohol consumption. Along with the eradication of the main sources of cancer, the Committee also set a number of priorities to be addressed by the Commission in order to make prevention and access to treatment more effective for all patients. Among these, we could mention the standardization of screening protocols, the facilitation of cross-border healthcare, and the development of European multicenter clinical trials. The Committee also upheld the “Right to be Forgotten” for all European patients and the need for increased transparency of the pharmaceutical sector when it comes to clinical trials or component pricing.

Among the several proposals made by the Committee, SAFE welcomes the decision to emphasize the role that a healthy diet can play in limiting cancer occurrence by:

  •  Encouraging the consumption of plant-based options and addressing meat overconsumption.
  • Advocating for mandatory and harmonized front-of-pack nutritional labels
  • Supporting fiscal measures to make fresh food more affordable
  • Revising the relevant provisions to restrict the advertising of high in fat, sugar and salt food by proposing a comprehensive EU-wide regulation to prohibit such advertising to minors;
  • Urging the Commission to propose a revision of Article 68(2) of REACH, the food contact materials regulation, underlining “that endocrine disruptors (EDs) are present in food, food contact materials, (…) and that exposure, even at low doses, can induce adverse effects in the short and long term, including cancer”.

As the BECA’s report underlines, it is imperative to help individuals make informed, sustainable and healthy consumption choices. SAFE has strived to contribute to this shift through projects such as the Tackling Adolescent Obesity Project, a set of nutrition trainings aimed at tackling obesity, or by conducting campaigns fighting additives or misleading food labelling. However, despite some successes, more has to be done to address children’s exposure to HFSS marketing. For this reason, SAFE recently joined EPHA’s call to action which also urges the Commission to adopt a new legislation that protects children from unhealthy food marketing.

Lastly, the Committee’s call for a revision of the REACH regulation highlights the importance of endocrine disruptors in noncommunicable diseases occurrence. Over the years, SAFE has focused on the issue, advocating for a new legislation that can ensure a high level of human health protection and recently issuing a FCM Guideline on their health implications and correct use.