News

Global activist summit on nanotech calls on governments to protect people & environment

[7th October, Berlin] - Some 30 activists representing 14 environmental, technology assessment and consumer organisations from Europe, the United States, Canada and Latin America met for the 4th International Nanotechnology Activist Summit in Berlin on October 6 and 7.

Nanotechnology uses a powerful new set of technologies to change substances at the very smallest scale so that have new properties that they do not have at a larger scale. Nanomaterials are being used in a variety of products. In the last five years, chemical companies have been introducing more and more consumer products containing nanoparticles. The Wilson Center in the US has found more than 1000 nano-consumer products in the US market, the BEUC/ANEC inventory and the BUND inventory found that more than 800 nano consumer products are being sold in Europe.

Jurek Vengels of Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND), Germany declared: “The challenge is that none of these products have been tested to assure consumers that they are safe. Product manufacturers and distributors bear the burden of proof to demonstrate the safety of their products. If there is no independent health and safety review of each product as it is formulated, then the products should be taken off the market.”

Jaydee Hanson from the International Center for Technology Assessment, which has filed legal challenges to the US Environmental Policy Agency and the Food and Drug Administration, called “for the protection of workers and the public from exposure to nanomaterials that have not been proven safe.”

Paolo Martins, Coordinator of the Brazilian Research Network in Nanotechnology, Society and the Environment called for review of nanotechnologies that will have wide-ranging effects on workers and consumers in the developing world. He noted that there must be, “full consideration of the ethical and social impacts of these technologies.”

Claudia Neubauer of Fondation Sciences Citoyennes (France) called for “full and meaningful public participation in decisions about research and innovations related to nanotechnologies.”
Ian Illuminato of Friends of the Earth-US demanded that “a full lifecycle analysis must be completed prior to any commercialization of nano-products.”

Dorothée Browaeys, Director General of VivAgora (France) noted that “nanomaterials must be classified as new substances and subject to nano-specific regulation. France has initiated mandatory declaration for producers and importers, this should be expanded to include all formulators and retailers of products containing nanomaterials. Other countries should do likewise.”

Louise Duprez from the European Environmental Bureau in Brussels called upon the European Commission to “rapidly agree on a definition for nanomaterials and propose long-awaited legislation to ensure that their applications are safe for people’s health and the environment”.

Pat Mooney, Executive Director of the ETC Group, with offices in Canada, the Philippines, Mexico, and the US called for a moratorium on the commercialization of nano-products, but noted that all “Nano-industries must be fully accountable for liabilities caused by their products if they come on the market.”

Participants included the following organisations:

Center of International Environmental Law (Switzerland)
Arbeit & Gesundheit (Germany)
Brazilian Research Network in Nanotechnology, Society, and Environment
BUND (Germany)
Center for Food Safety (US)
Deutsches Institute für Normund e.V.
ETC Group (Canada, Phillippines, Mexico, US)
European Environmental Bureau
Fondation Sciences Citoyennes (France)
Friends of the Earth (US)
International Center for Technology Assessment (US)
Natural Resources Defense Council (US)
Vivagora (France)
WECF/Women for a Common Future in Europe (Germany)

Contact
Contact of BUND is Jurek Vengels: Mobile: 0049-176-99298853, E-Mail Jurek.vengels@bund.net ; internet: www.bund.net