Industries claim that nanotechnology is both good for business and good for consumers’ quality of life, a seemingly obvious win-win situation. Yet the less advertised risks of nanotechnology applications require close scrutiny.
The application of nanotechnology began with semiconductors, but the presence of nanomaterials in your laptop and car is not the same as ingesting it from your chocolate bar.
In its new report on the hazards of nanotechnology, released to coincide with the proposal for a Framingnano governance platform at the European Commission, Food & Water Europe believes that basic human needs such as food and water should remain nanotechnology-free, as potential harms may be much greater than the alleged benefits.
Justifying the risk taken in the use of nanomaterials by saying that everything we use contains an element of risk anyway, is a weak argument. The analogy between the risk of driving a nanotechnology powered car and that of consuming a product that we apply to our skin or swallow is over simplistic, as the nature of the risks involved in these two cases differs significantly. Given today’s immense uncertainty with respect to absorbing a nanoparticle (through ingestion or application to hair and skin), the precautionary principle should be enforced through a moratorium on all consumer products whose safety has not been proven beyond doubt.
Food & Water Europe focuses on the risks of nanotechnology applications in areas such as occupational safety, environment and consumer products while pointing out the insufficiency of existing regulations both in the United States and the European Union alike. In the absence of meaningful regulations that would prioritize consumers’ safety over profit, Food & Water Europe supports the “no data no market” approach of the European Parliament’s environment committee, which includes market withdrawal of consumer products containing nanotechnology until reliable and independent safety assessments can be made.