miércoles, agosto 01, 2007

Coalición internacional por regulación de nanotec

July 31, 2007


Over Forty Groups Release Fundamental Principles for Nanotech Oversight, Citing Risks to the Public, Workers, and the Environment

With the joint release today of Principles for the Oversight of
Nanotechnologies and Nanomaterials, a broad international coalition
of consumer, public health, environmental, labor, and civil society
organizations spanning six continents called for strong,
comprehensive oversight of the new technology and its products. The
manufacture of products using nanotechnology–a powerful platform for
manipulating matter at the level of atoms and molecules in order to
alter properties–has exploded in recent years. Hundreds of consumer
products incorporating nanomaterials are now on the market,
including cosmetics, sunscreens, sporting goods, clothing,
electronics, baby and infant products, and food and food packaging.
But evidence indicates that current nanomaterials may pose
significant health, safety, and environmental hazards. In addition,
the profound social, economic, and ethical challenges posed by nano-
scale technologies have yet to be addressed.

As Chee Yoke Ling of the Third World Network explained, “Materials
engineered at the nano-scale can exhibit fundamentally different
properties–including toxicity–with unknown effects. Current
research raises red flags that demand precautionary action and
further study.” She added, “As there are now hundreds of products
containing nanomaterials in commerce, the public, workers, and the
environment are being exposed to these unlabeled, and in most cases,
untested materials.”

George Kimbrell of the International Center for Technology Assessment
continued, “Since there is currently no government oversight and no
labeling requirements for nanoproducts anywhere in the world, no one
knows when they are exposed to potential nanotech risks and no one
is monitoring for potential health or environmental harm. That’s
why we believe oversight action based on our principles is urgent.”

This industrial boom is creating a growing nano-workforce which is
predicted to reach two million globally by 2015. “Even though
potential health hazards stemming from exposure have been clearly
identified, there are no mandatory workplace measures that require
exposures to be assessed, workers to be trained, or control measures
to be implemented,” explained Bill Kojola of the AFL-CIO. “This
technology should not be rushed to market until these failings are
corrected and workers assured of their safety.” “Nanomaterials are
entering the environment during manufacture, use, and disposal of
hundreds of products, even though we have no way to track the effects
of this potent new form of pollution,” agreed Ian Illuminato of
Friends of the Earth. “By the time monitoring catches up to
commerce, the damage will already have been done.”

Ron Oswald, General Secretary of international trade union IUF,
highlighted the importance of defending against the massive
intrusion of nano-products 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 makers of these materials are winning patents based on novelty
and uniqueness, but industry then turns around and says their nano-
products do not need to be regulated differently because they are
the same as bulk materials,” pointed out Kathy Jo Wetter of ETC
Group, an international civil society organization based in Ottawa,
Canada. “This contradiction benefits industry, but it cannot
stand. Mandatory, nano-specific regulatory oversight measures are

“Although governments worldwide spent over $6 billion on nanotech R&D
last year, research spending on risks and social effects comprises
only a ‘nano’ portion of that,” noted Rick Worthington of the Loka
Institute an organization that promotes public participation in all
matters related to science and technology. “We’ve seen the outcome
of unregulated ‘miracle technologies’ such as synthetic chemicals
before in the toxic pollution of entire communities. A portion of
the nano research on social and environmental issues should involve
active participation by communities, whose insights can help us
avoid the catastrophic problems experienced in the past.”

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.

“We’re calling upon all governmental bodies, policymakers,
industries, organizations, and all other relevant actors to endorse
and take actions to incorporate these principles,” said Beth Burrows
of the Edmonds Institute, a public interest organization dedicated
to education about environment, technology, and intellectual
property rights. “As new technologies emerge we need to ensure new
materials and their applications are benign and contribute to a
healthy and socially just world. Given our past mistakes with
‘wonder technologies’ like pesticides, asbestos, and ozone depleting
chemicals, the rapid commercialization of nanomaterials without full
testing or oversight is shocking. It is no surprise that the public
of the 21 st century is demanding more accountability.”

The complete document is available at numerous endorsing
organizations websites, including www.icta.org. Organizations can
endorse the principles by emailing gkimbrell@icta.org.

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 Soils Association (United Kingdom),
Third World Network (China), United Steelworkers (U.S.), Vivagora