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International Call for Strong Regulation of Nanotechnology Posted to the IUF website 02-Aug-2007 Share this article.
An international coalition of 44 national and international public health and policy, environmental and trade union organizations - including the IUF, ITUC and the US AFL-CIO, BCTGM and United Steelworkers - have launched a call for strong, comprehensive regulatory oversight at all levels of nantechnology and its products. Nanotechnology manipulates synthetic and natural materials at the atomic and molecular scale. A wide range of products containing engineered nanoparticles are already commercially available, with many more scheduled for commercial release as corporations invest massively in the technology, despite the well-documented risks to human health and the environment. There is no way to measure the presence of nanoparticles in the workplace, let alone test for exposure. The technology, says the coalition, poses specific risks with specific regulatory oversight requirements.
IUF General Secretary Ron Oswald, commenting on the release of the Principles for the Oversight of Nanotechnologies and Nanomaterials, highlighted the importance of defending against the massive intrusion of nanoproducts into the global food chain, pointing out that “hundreds of commercially available products – from pesticides to additives to packaging materials incorporating nanotech–are already on the market or just a step away. Workers, consumers, and the environment must be adequately protected against the multiple risks this development poses to the global food system and the women and men who produce the food we all depend on.”
The coalition’s declaration outlines eight fundamental principles necessary for adequate and effective oversight and assessment of the emerging field of nanotechnology:
- A Precautionary Foundation: Product manufacturers and distributors must bear the burden of proof to demonstrate the safety of their products: if no independent health and safety data review, then no market approval.
- Mandatory Nano-specific Regulations: Nanomaterials should be classified as new substances and subject to nano-specific oversight. Voluntary initiatives are not sufficient.
- Health and Safety of the Public and Workers: The prevention of exposure to nanomaterials that have not been proven safe must be undertaken to protect the public and workers.
- Environmental Protection: A full lifecycle analysis of environmental impacts must be completed prior to commercialization.
- Transparency: All nano-products must be labeled and safety data made publicly available.
- Public Participation: There must be open, meaningful, and full public participation at every level.
Inclusion of Broader Impacts: Nanotechnology’s wide-ranging effects, including ethical and social impacts, must be considered.
- Manufacturer Liability: Nano-industries must be accountable for liabilities incurred from their products.
With the release of the declaration, the endorsing organizations are calling on all relevant actors - including governmental agencies and bodies at all levels, companies, scientific and research institutions and other relevant organizations - to endorse and take action to incorporate and implement the principles.
The text of the Principles for the Oversight of Nanotechnologies and Nanomaterials, together with the list of the initial endorsing organizations, is available on the IUF web site in pdf format by clicking here. The IUF encourages its distribution and endorsement. Further endorsements are welcome and should be sent to email@example.com