The Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment recently hosted a conference whereby professionals gathered to identify areas where current EU legislation on nanomaterials is insufficient.
Entitled; ‘Building Blocks for Completing EU Regulation of Nanomaterials’, the event was invitation-only and participants included representatives from Member States, the European Commission, European Parliament, industry, and a number of non-governmental organizations.
According to the later published Chairman’s Report, the second European Conference on nanomaterials running over two days seen many participants agree that immediate steps need to be taken "to address the need for information and public concern and that databases or registries will be indispensable for gathering the necessary information."
The conference also supported the view that additional safety regulations should not impede innovation within the nanomaterials industry and that innovation should not pose hazards to health or the environment.
Call for more a harmonised policy
Several member states and other participants called for the Commission to set up a ‘nanoregister’ soon, indicating that as long as "the information flow on nanomaterials remains patchy and obscure, as it is now, more websites and databases are expected to appear that are too critical."
Elsewhere consumer organisations felt additional and more specific ‘nano’-labelling on products is needed. “We need to know more than just the ingredients that are in the products: we need to know how much."
While all participants agreed that the European public should be able to make informed decisions about buying cosmetics, food or other products that contain nanomaterials.
EU registration verses varying databases
Although France has already created a national registry, and other EU states such as Denmark and Belgium have taken steps towards creating their own, participants were finally reported to have “agreed that an EU-registration on nanomaterials is preferred over a series of varying national databases,” which could “create more problems than solutions in improving a harmonised European policy on nanomaterials.”
In his report, the Chairman went on to state that the current EC, which will be in office until the second half of 2014 “is unlikely to take a decision on setting up a community-wide EU-database for nanomaterials and that one EC official in particular expressed that “the main problem on the table is to define the level of information on nanomaterials that is required."
For a full view of the chairman’s report, please see here .