NGOs Call for "Nano Patch" for REACH, and EC Responds

The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), ClientEarth, and Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) released on November 13, 2012, a proposal for European Union (EU) legislation to address the risks of nanomaterials. CIEL states that the non-governmental organizations’ (NGO) proposal was prompted by the European Commission’s (EC) October 3, 2012, Communication on the Second Regulatory Review on Nanomaterials. The Communication describes the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) program as “the best possible framework for the risk management of nanomaterials when they occur as substances or mixtures” and notes that “more specific requirements for nanomaterials within the framework have proven necessary.” The NGOs maintain that further regulatory action is necessary, and recommend a “nano patch” for REACH, including an obligation for all nanomaterials to be considered distinct from their non-nanoscale counterparts and substantially lower volume thresholds for registration of nanoscale substances. The NGOs also call for an EU-wide registry for all nanomaterials and products on the market.

The EC’s Environment and Enterprise Directorate-Generals (DG) issued separate statements in response to the NGOs’ proposal. DG Environment stated: “We regard the NGO proposal . . . as a reaction to the Commission’s recent regulatory review on nanomaterials. We are looking forward to discussing our review with all the stakeholders.” DG Enterprise released a more detailed statement, noting that the EC “does not consider appropriate at present to change the basic registration rules under REACH and the rules for when a chemical safety assessment is required under REACH.” In addition, DG Enterprise stated: “[T]he highest volume substances such as carbon black and synthetic amorphous silica, as well as the most debated substances such as titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and carbon nanotubes, have already been registered under REACH. Together, they represent the vast majority of nanomaterials on the market in terms of tonnage and sales value.”

NGO Publishes Framework for Food and Food Packaging Products Containing Nanomaterials

As You Sow, a non-governmental organization (NGO), has published a framework providing guidelines intended for food and food packaging companies to assess exposure to and potential risks from food and food packaging products containing nanomaterials. According to As Your Sow, more than a dozen food companies, scientific organizations, and investor groups reviewed the framework, including:  Kraft, McDonald’s, PepsiCo, Whole Foods, and Yum! Brands; the Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, Project on Emerging Nanotechnology, International Center for Technology Assessment, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Technical University of Denmark; As You Sow, Calvert Investments, and the Investor Environmental Health Network.  The framework offers tiered recommendations of steps companies should take and information they should obtain from their suppliers regarding the safety testing of nanomaterials and products containing nanomaterials.  As You Sow recommends that, until there are “firm regulatory requirements and/or a central repository for safety data on nanomaterials, information requested in this framework should be provided to food and food packaging companies by their suppliers.” 

The framework:

  • Provides an introduction to key terms and issues;
  • Describes the current state of regulations and risks; and
  • Makes recommendations regarding the information companies should obtain from suppliers who offer food products and packaging that contain nanomaterials by presenting best practices from existing scientific, industry, and governmental frameworks.

Of note to users, the framework defines nanomaterials as “materials ‘intentionally engineered’ to take advantage of unique properties at the nanoscale -- from 1-1000 nm.” As You Sow states that it is developing a survey for food manufacturers, packagers, distributors, retailers, and fast-food chains regarding their use of, and policies related to, nanomaterials in food products.  As You Sow intends to release the results in mid-2012.

NanoCap and EP Will Hold Conference on Working and Living with Nanotechnologies

On April 2, 2009, NanoCap and the European Parliament (EP) will hold a conference entitled “Working and Living with Nanotechnologies: Trade Union and NGO positions.” The conference objectives are to present positions and perspectives on nanotechnologies at the workplace and in the environment adopted by European trade unions and environmental non-governmental organizations (NGO), including:

  • Setting priorities for the responsible development of nanotechnologies, especially regarding environmental and workplace safety;
  • Exchanging views with nanotechnologies stakeholders and policymakers;
  • Establishing pathways for implementing the precautionary approach; and
  • Presenting a nanoethics portfolio.


NGOs Call for Obama Administration to Establish Moratorium on Pesticidal Nanotechnology

According to a draft January 7, 2009, document, non-governmental organizations (NGO) such as Beyond Pesticides and the Pesticide Action Network for North America recommend that the Obama Administration take a number of immediate actions within its first 100 days, including establishing a moratorium on pesticidal nanotechnology. The NGOs call for the suspension of the registration of nanoproducts with pesticidal properties, and the removal of untested products from the market.  The NGOs urge the Obama Administration to direct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop a clear testing protocol that identifies the full range of potential adverse health and environmental effects of nanoproducts with pesticidal properties. The NGOs cite the 60-day comment period on the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA) petition as an acknowledgment by EPA of “the critical need for in-depth review of products utilizing nanotechnology pesticides.” ICTA petitioned EPA in May 2008 to regulate nanoscale silver products as pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

EPA Provides Summary of August 2007 NMSP Meeting

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed in the docket a report summarizing remarks and public comments made during the August 2, 2007, meeting on the Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program (NMSP). The purpose of the meeting was to discuss and receive comments on the development of the voluntary NMSP. The intent of the report is to provide an overview of the discussion that occurred. It does not analyze or evaluate any portion of the discussions. EPA structured the meeting agenda to allow formal comments from eight, pre-registered stakeholders, and allocated time in the afternoon to allow additional stakeholders who requested time to speak to make public comments.  The meeting concluded with a question and answer session focusing on key issues that were specifically identified by EPA.  The meeting brought together 124 participants, including stakeholders in academia, non-governmental organizations (NGO), government, industry, professional organizations, the press, international entities, and the general public.  Meeting minutes were not prepared and a transcript was not recorded.