Environment, Health, News March 14, 2008

Civil Society Statement on Nanotechnology: Guiding Principles for Regulation

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An international coalition of 44 food, environment and labour organisations is calling for urgent precautionary management of nanotechnology’s toxicity risks to human health and the environment, and its significant social challenges. The group has released a joint statement that details the principles which should underpin precautionary and democratic management of this powerful new technology.

Despite mounting evidence of the serious new risks associated with nanotoxicity, the public, workers, and the environment remain exposed to unregulated nanomaterials now used in cosmetics, food and food packaging, clothing, household appliances, electronic goods and paints.

The international coalition is calling upon all governmental bodies, policymakers, industries and other organizations involved in nanotechnology to endorse these principles and to use them to underpin precautionary management of nanotechnology.

A summary of the key recommendations of the joint principles document follows, along with a list of the current signatories.

Click here for the full Joint Principles Statement.

The coalition’s declaration outlines eight fundamental principles necessary for adequate and effective oversight and assessment of the emerging field of nanotechnology

I. 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.

II. Mandatory Nano-specific Regulations: Nanomaterials should be classified as new substances and subject to nano-specific oversight. Voluntary initiatives are not sufficient.

III. 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.

IV. Environmental Protection: A full lifecycle analysis of environmental impacts must be completed prior to commercialization.

V. Transparency: All nano-products must be labeled and safety data made publicly available.

VI. Public Participation: There must be open, meaningful, and full public participation at every level.

VII. Inclusion of Broader Impacts: Nanotechnology’s wide-ranging effects, including ethical and social impacts, must be considered.

VIII. Manufacturer Liability: Nano-industries must be accountable for liabilities incurred from their products.

The initial endorsing organizations are:

Acción Ecológica (Ecuador)
African Centre for Biosafety
American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (U.S.)
Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union
Beyond Pesticides (U.S.)
Biological Farmers of Australia
Canadian Environmental Law Association
Center for Biological Diversity (U.S.)
Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (U.S.)
Center for Food Safety (U.S.)
Center for Environmental Health (U.S.)
Center for Genetics and Society (U.S.)
Center for the Study of Responsive Law (U.S.)
Clean Production Action (Canada)
Ecological Club Eremurus (Russia)
EcoNexus (United Kingdom)
Edmonds Institute (U.S.)
Environmental Research Foundation (U.S.)
Essential Action (U.S.)
ETC Group (Canada)
Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security (India)
Friends of the Earth Australia
Friends of the Earth Europe
Friends of the Earth United States
GeneEthics (Australia)
Greenpeace (U.S.)
Health and Environment Alliance (Belgium)
India Institute for Critical Action-Centre in Movement
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (U.S.)
Institute for Sustainable Development (Ethiopia)
International Center for Technology Assessment (U.S.)
International Society of Doctors for the Environment (Austria)
International Trade Union Confederation
International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations
Loka Institute (U.S.)
National Toxics Network (Australia)
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (U.S.)
Science and Environmental Health Network (U.S.)
Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (U.S.)
Tebtebba Foundation – Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education (Philippines)
The Soil Association (United Kingdom)
Third World Network (China)
United Steelworkers (U.S.)
Vivagora (France)


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