International coalition calls for urgent precautionary management of Nanotechnology

An international coalition of 44 environment, public interest and labour organisations has released a set of “joint principles” calling for urgent precautionary management of nanotechnology’s toxicity risks to human health and the environment, and its significant social challenges.

Media Release - Friends of the Earth Australia


International coalition calls for urgent precautionary management of Nanotechnology

1 August 2007

Overnight, an international coalition of 44 environment, public interest and labour organisations has released a set of “joint principles” calling for urgent precautionary management of nanotechnology’s toxicity risks to human health and the environment, and its significant social challenges.

The coalition spans six continents and includes four Australian signatories – the Biological Farmers of Australia, Friends of the Earth, GeneEthics and the National Toxics Network.

“Today, Friends of the Earth Australia joins 43 other civil society groups world wide in calling for governments to support precautionary management of the serious risks and challenges associated with nanotechnology, and to involve the public in decision making about this powerful new technology,” said Friends of the Earth Australia nanotechnology spokesperson Georgia Miller.

“Despite mounting evidence of the serious new risks associated with nanotoxicity, the public, workers, and the environment remain exposed to unregulated nanomaterials now used in cosmetics, sunscreens, food and food packaging, clothing, household appliances, paints, electronic goods and industry.”

“It is completely unacceptable that hundreds of nano products are now commercially available, yet governments internationally have failed to protect the public, workers and the environment from their risks,” said Ms Miller.

“Earlier this year, NICNAS indicated that over ten thousand tonnes of nanomaterials are used in commercial production in Australia each year. Yet the Australian government has yet to commit to regulating the nanotech industry.”

“Our international coalition is calling upon all governmental bodies, policymakers, industries and other organizations involved in nanotechnology to endorse these principles and to use them to underpin precautionary management of nanotechnology,” said Ms Miller.

A summary of the key recommendations of the joint principles document follows, along with a list of the current signatories.

The full Joint Principles statement can be found at: http://nano.foe.org.au/node/213

For further comment contact Georgia Miller 0437 979 402

The coalition’s declaration outlines eight fundamental principles necessary for adequate and effective oversight and assessment of the emerging field of nanotechnology.

I. A Precautionary Foundation: Product manufacturers and distributors must bear the burden of proof to demonstrate the safety of their products: if no independent health and safety data review, then no market approval.

II. Mandatory Nano-specific Regulations: Nanomaterials should be classified as new substances and subject to nano-specific oversight. Voluntary initiatives are not sufficient.

III. Health and Safety of the Public and Workers: The prevention of exposure to nanomaterials that have not been proven safe must be undertaken to protect the public and workers.

IV. Environmental Protection: A full lifecycle analysis of environmental impacts must be completed prior to commercialization.

V. Transparency: All nano-products must be labeled and safety data made publicly available.

VI. Public Participation: There must be open, meaningful, and full public participation at every level.

VII. Inclusion of Broader Impacts: Nanotechnology’s wide-ranging effects, including ethical and social impacts, must be considered.

VIII. Manufacturer Liability: Nano-industries must be accountable for liabilities incurred from their products.

The initial endorsing organisations are:

Acción Ecológica (Ecuador)
African Centre for Biosafety
American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (U.S.)
Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union
Beyond Pesticides (U.S.)
Biological Farmers of Australia
Canadian Environmental Law Association
Center for Biological Diversity (U.S.)
Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (U.S.)
Center for Food Safety (U.S.)
Center for Environmental Health (U.S.)
Center for Genetics and Society (U.S.)
Center for the Study of Responsive Law (U.S.)
Clean Production Action (Canada)
Ecological Club Eremurus (Russia)
EcoNexus (United Kingdom)
Edmonds Institute (U.S.)
Environmental Research Foundation (U.S.)
Essential Action (U.S.)
ETC Group (Canada)
Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security (India)
Friends of the Earth Australia
Friends of the Earth Europe
Friends of the Earth United States
GeneEthics (Australia)
Greenpeace (U.S.)
Health and Environment Alliance (Belgium)
India Institute for Critical Action-Centre in Movement
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (U.S.)
Institute for Sustainable Development (Ethiopia)
International Center for Technology Assessment (U.S.)
International Society of Doctors for the Environment (Austria)
International Trade Union Confederation
International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering,
Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations
Loka Institute (U.S.)
National Toxics Network (Australia)
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (U.S.)
Science and Environmental Health Network (U.S.)
Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (U.S.)
Tebtebba Foundation – Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy
Research and Education (Philippines)
The Soils Association (United Kingdom)
Third World Network (China)
United Steelworkers (U.S.)
Vivagora (France)

Georgia Miller
Nanotechnology Project Coordinator
Friends of the Earth Australia
P: +61 (0)3 6224 6794
M: +61 (0)437 979 402
E: georgia.miller@foe.org.au
W: http://www.nano.foe.org.au