Calls for market withdrawal of nano products

Source of Article:  http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Product-Categories/Cleaning-Safety-Hygiene/Calls-for-market-withdrawal-of-nano-products

By Jane Byrne, 02-Apr-2009

Products containing nanotechnology which are already on the market should be withdrawn until safety assessments can be made, claims the European Parliament’s environment committee.

The committee this week adopted a report by Swedish Green MEP Carl Schlyter which calls for tighter controls on nanotechnology, including the application of the 'no data, no market' principle contained in the REACH Directive.

The committee's decision comes in the wake of last week's vote on the novel food regulations when MEPs voted for definition, labelling and specific risk assessments for nano-containing foods.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) has welcomed the move by the environment committee, in particular the fact that it had taken on board suggestions made by NGOs for an immediate review of existing legislation.


Estimates of the future market for nanotechnology range from €750bn to €2,000bn by 2015 according to the European Commission, with predictions for the number of new jobs created by the industry standing at around 10 million.

In the packaging industry, the use of nanoparticles is at a more advanced stage than it is in food production.

In the form of composite films, wafer-thin nano coatings of aluminium, for example, or aluminium oxide protect snacks or chocolate bars packed in them from oxygen, water vapour and flavour substances. Nanoparticles are also used in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, to improve the blocking properties of bottles against oxygen in particular.

Regulation urged

And Switzerland’s Centre for Technology Assessment (TA-Swiss) recently called for the existing legislation on foods and chemicals to be adapted to meet the demands of nanotechnology.

The Bern-based TA-SWISS, which describes its role as imparting knowledge that is as independent as possible on the repercussions, opportunities and risks of new technologies, conducted a study into nano packaging materials and food additives already in use in Switzerland.

The report, Nanotechnology in the Food Sector, concludes that in view of the international flows of goods, global or at least Europe-wide regulation is required in relation to nano-particles in packaging and products.

Consumer awareness

The project team, led by Martin Möller, a researcher with the Öko-Institut (Institute for Applied Ecology) in Germany, maintains that the technology has suffered from a lack of public understanding and consumer concerns over the safety of some of its applications.

They claim action is thus needed from manufacturers and retailers to help ease the sense of mistrust among the public: “Manufacturers, processors and dealers of foods and food packaging with nanocomponents could, for instance, follow industry-specific codes of conduct,” argue the researchers.

Moreover, the research team calls for the evaluation of existing systems for traceability in food production to check for their applicability to nanomaterials, and they also claim that the effects of nanoparticles over the whole life cycle of a product, from manufacture to disposal needs to be studied further.



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