Gap in EU Law in regulating Nanotech

Saturday, July 8, 2006

People has finaly realized that the current law is not sufficent in regulating products containing nanomaterials:

Nanotechnology has been touted as the next revolution in many industries, including food manufacturing. It is a sector for which the topic has become a hot consumer issue due to fears over the unknown consequences of digesting nano-scale particles designed to behave in specific way in the body.

The CST review follows a report in May by the country's Food Standards Agency (FSA, which said gaps existed in EU legislation in regulating the future uses of nanotechnology.

The gaps include those relating to particle size, the use of nano versions of already approved ingredients, and to packaging, according to the FSA's legislative review of the food sector.

UK's FSA has published a "Draft FSA regulatory review on nanotechnology in food" to be commented. The draft summrizes that:

• On the basis of current information, most potential uses of nanotechnologies that could affect the food area would come under some form of approval process before being permitted for use.

• This review has not identified any major gaps in regulations in principle, but there is uncertainty in some areas whether applications of nanotechnologies would be picked up consistently. In these cases relatively straightforward options are available to address this uncertainty.

• As food regulations are harmonised at EU level, these would need to be addressed through the European Commission. The Commission has issued a Nanotechnology Action Plan which commits it to co-ordinating an approach to such issues.

• The view of the independent advisory committees the COT, COC and COM on risk assessment is that the existing paradigm for risk assessment is
applicable to nanomaterials although there are major gaps in information for hazard identification.

• Risk assessment relies on provision of sufficient reliable information to inform an assessment in each case. Development of risk assessment procedures will need to include procedures for provision of information to inform risk assessments, for example in relation to an application for approval for a new product or process.

• The onus should be on the manufacturers of new products or processes to supply the information needed for risk assessment. A model balancing
openness in the interests of consumers and the public and commercial confidentiality exists under the current regulations on novel foods.