Thursday, June 19, 2008

EU Commission Begins Public Dialogue On Nanotechnologies

Jun 17: The European Environmental Commission has begun a public dialogue on nanotechnologies -- "tapping economic and environmental potential through safe products." According to a release from the Commission, "Nanotechnologies have enormous potential benefits for manufacturers, consumers, employees, patients and the environment. They will bring more energy and resource efficient processes, improve computer memories and processors and could usher in a new age of customized pharmaceuticals and medical procedures."

While current EU legislation covers in principle the challenges for health, safety and environment with regards to nanomaterials, there is further need for research and international cooperation. As more and more products involving nanomaterials are reaching the market, the European Commission will start a consultation with stakeholders and Member States in order to increase knowledge and awareness about the potential of nanotechnologies and to continue to ensure an adequate protection of nature, environment and health.

Commission Vice-President G√ľnter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy said, “A reliable and stable regulatory framework is essential for enabling the EU’s industry to fully exploit the advances of nanotechnologies. With the right structures in place they will boost innovation and contribute to growth, employment creation and competitiveness.” Commissioner Stavros Dimas responsible for environment policy said, “The regulatory challenge is to ensure that society benefits from novel applications of nanotechnologies, while ensuring a high level of protection of health, safety and the environment and thereby fully applying the precautionary principle.”

The Commission reports, that nanotechnologies process materials are at the atomic, molecular and macromolecular scale, where properties may differ from those seen at a larger scale. Products based on nanotechnologies are already in use and analysts are predicting explosive economic growth in the sector over the coming decade. Nanotechnologies will boost innovation in areas such as public health, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), the manufacturing industry, environmental protection, energy, transport, security and space.

Forecasts for the world market for nanotechnologies span between 750 to 2000 billion € up to 2015, and the potential for the creation of jobs is estimated to 10 million nano-related jobs by 2014, i.e. 10% of all manufacturing jobs world-wide. In the European Union, nanotechnologies are covered by existing legislation such as REACH [Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals], the current legislative framework for chemicals, and other specific-sector legislation for food, cosmetics, medicine and etc.

The Commission says that much work has already been done in this area related to the Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), while under the OECD Committee on Scientific and Technological Policy (CSTP) a Working Party on Nanotechnology was established in March 2007. The objective of this Working Party is to promote international co-operation which facilitates research, development and responsible commercialization of nanotechnology in member countries and in non-member economies.

Access the Commission announcement with links to extensive related information (
click here). Access the OECD Working Party website (click here). Access WIMS-EcoBizPort Nanotechnology links (click here). [*Toxics]