Comments 1

  1. Hi Tim,
    The strategy you describe may well characterise the approach of some people, parliamentarians or otherwise. But I just don’t think it is a fair assessment of the report adopted by the European Parliament, or of the approach being taken to nanotech in government generally.

    Recently updated EU novel food and cosmetics regulations already mean nano ingredients will in future have to be explicitly labelled ‘(nano)’ on product packaging. It’s worth noting that obligatory labelling of GM-containing food has not caused problems for those selling the stuff, albeit there is not much on sale in Europe (

    The report from MEPs you mention says that as well as the novel food and cosmetics regulations, all other relevant legislation should be updated to address nanotechnology explicitly where appropriate. The Commission is already working on nano in REACH, so this is not as revolutionary as it sounds.

    You also imply that concerns over nanotech safety are illusory. I’m sure we could agree that a lot of nanotech really is safe, but there’s no need to throw the baby out with the bath water. There are genuine concerns about certain materials such as nano-Ag and HARNs that keep getting flagged up – by the RCEP and most recently in the Emergnano report for DEFRA. Surely it is sensible and beneficial for all, including nanotech industries, to tread carefully here.

    Quite likely embedded nanotubes will not be a big problem. But nano silver in socks seems like a stupid – and pointless – idea. Whether nano silver is more problematic for the aquatic environment than non-nano is interesting but not necessarily important. I’m not saying we should stick our heads in the sand and deny technological progress – I completely agreed with your recent post on the futility of luddism. But lumping together legitiamte concerns on certain nanomaterials with the frequently ideological objections to GM/’technology’ in general is not helpful either.

    keep up with the interesting and stimulating blog!

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