Voluntary nanotechnology reporting launched in UK

 
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2006 11:43 am    Post subject: Voluntary nanotechnology reporting launched in UK Reply with quote

Voluntary nanotechnology reporting launched in UK


UK food manufacturers and others are been asked to provide any information on nanotechnologies they are working on, under a programme launched this week by the government.

The scheme is part of the UK government's bid to assess the risks nanotechnology poses to the public. The government 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 scheme could eventually lead to regulations restricting the use of nanotechnology applications in certain sectors. Certainly the food industry is one hotspot that consumers are concerned about.

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.

"There is currently very little information available on the potential risks that these materials may pose to the environment and human health," Defra stated. " The scheme is designed, together with a programme of government research, to address this knowledge deficit."

In launching the voluntary reporting scheme, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it wanted to work toward assessing any potential risks posed by the products of nanotechnologies.
Industry, research organisations and others are included in the list of those being asked to report on their work. The scheme is voluntary and will run for a period of two years.

Michael Pitkethly, chairman of the UK's Nanotechnologies Industry Association (NIA), said the scheme is important to ensuring that industry has appropriate controls in place for engineered materials at the nanoscale.
"The safety of these materials is of paramount importance to the NIA and the scheme aligns with the NIA's advocacy of a measured and responsible approach and has our full support," he stated.

Earlier this year the UK launched a review of its nanotechnology policy over concerns about the health and environmental risks. The review is being led by the UK Council for Science and Technology (CST).

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.

The CST independent review will cover the government's actions in the two years since their policy response to a study by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering. In addition Defra on 23 June completed a consultation on a proposed voluntary reporting scheme for engineered nanoscale materials. Other regulators worldwide are also in the process of reviewing policy and regulations relating to the technology.

The CST is the UK government's advisory body on science and technology policy issues. Members are appointed by the prime minister. The CST plans to publish its review in spring 2007. The deadline for submissions is 2 October 2006.

The Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering report on nanotechnologies considered the possible health, social, ethical, safety and environmental questions that could be raised by nanotechnologies.

A public survey taken last year by the European Commission across the EU found widespread support for medical and industrial biotechnologies. While there is opposition in most European countries to agricultural biotechnologes, such as genetically-modified (GM) food, the European public mainly supports the development of nanotechnologies, pharmacogenetics and gene therapy, the survey found. All three technologies “are perceived as useful to society and morally acceptable”, the Eurobarometer survey found. “Neither nanotechnology nor pharmcogenetics are perceived to be risky.”

So far nanotechnology has made minor inroads in the food and drink industry, mainly due to consumers' fears about the unknown risks the technology poses to their health. However food companies see great opportunity in the technology as a means of introducing innovative products to the market. Nanoscale technology also offers new opportunities for the packaging industries, and various potential food contact applications have been suggested, including improved barrier properties, better temperature performance, thinner films for flexible packaging, and nanoscale pigments for inks.

Other countries are also determining how to approach the technology. This year Germany's food safety risk assessment agency commissioned a study on on the risks of nanotechnological applications in food, cosmetics and other everyday items.



Source: http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/


This story was first posted on 28th September 2006.
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