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Nanotechnology top of workplace 'danger list'

"A new report by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) stated that nanotechnology is causing concern over the risks it poses to workers. Nanoparticles were placed at the top of the list of substances in the report entitled Expert Forecast on Emerging Chemical Risks from which employees need protection.

Nano cosmetics may carry big risks

Reprinted from opinion piece by FoEA's Georgia Miller in The Age newspaper: "Beauty products don't have a fantastic record on health over the centuries – think mercury face powders in Ancient Egypt or lead and arsenic face creams popular in the Elizabethan court. Today there is a widespread expectation that regulators will keep high risk ingredients out of cosmetics. Unfortunately, nanotechnology, the 'science of the small' is introducing a new generation of high risk cosmetic ingredients whose health effects remain poorly understood and effectively unregulated.

European Parliament backs Green report demanding action to ensure nano safety

On 24th April the European Parliament plenary adopted the report by Swedish Green MEP Carl Schlyter on the regulatory aspects of nanomaterials (1). He commented: "I am delighted that an overwhelming in Parliament majority backed my criticism of the Commission's unacceptable 'wait-and-see' attitude towards nanomaterials and instead called for a complete overhaul of relevant Community legislation within two years to make nanomaterials safe".

Unions fear that nanoparticles are the new asbestos

The Age writes that: "Australian unions are demanding urgent regulation of the nanotechnology industry, citing mounting evidence that some tiny particles used in products such as sunscreens and cosmetics could be as harmful as asbestos." The full article is copied below and is available at: http://www.theage.com.au/national/unions-call-for-action-to-oversee-nanotechnology-20090413-a4ts.html

Gates Foundation moves from GMOs to nanotech foods

In a discouraging new development, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a US$48 million partnership with the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The Gates Foundation has for years been fighting local communities' resistance to enforce a "green revolution" on Africa. African farmers have argued that the Gates/ Rockerfeller-backed "new green revolution" would act as a Trojan Horse for GMOs, and erode local farmers' knowledge and agricultural heritage. In short, they have argued that the philanthropic initiatives are acting as a smokescreen for multinational seed and agrochemical companies keen to open up a new market. Now, nanotechnology has been added to that equation.

Nanotechnology and the public interest: Repeating the mistakes of GM foods?

In an article published in the International Journal of Technology Transfer and Commercialisation, FoEA's Georgia Miller argues that governments and industry have learned little from the mistakes they made in GM foods.

Members of European Parliament vote for de facto moratorium on nanotech food

On 25 March, in the first reading of the new Novel Foods Directive, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) overwhelmingly voted in favour of setting stringent new rules for the safety assessment of foods produced used nanotechnology ('nanofoods'). The directive states that nanofoods may only be placed on the market after being subject to an approved nano-specific, standardised, safety assessment that is free of animal-testing. As the tests for such an assessment do not exist yet, the amended novel food directive constitutes a de facto moratorium on sales of nano food in the European Union.This must now be agreed by the national governments represented in the Council of the European Union.

Calls to protect workers from nano risks

ABC Online writes that: "Australian unions and industry are calling for urgent regulation to protect workers from the risks of nanotechnology, while scientists are struggling to keep up the supply of hard data."

Questioning governments' role as chief nanotech proponent - a biased adjudicator?

When hearing a legal case, in decision making on the board of a major bank or company, and in parliaments around the world, it's accepted practice to declare any potential conflicts of interest, and to absent yourself from taking part in decision making if one occurs. Not so with governments' involvement in nanotechnology. World-wide, governments are at once key nanotechnology proponents, major funders, risk assessors, regulators and public 'educators'. This conflict of interest is undermining efforts to initiate public 'dialogue' and is compromising the credibility of government-sponsored nanotechnology education programs.

Nanoparticles used in sunscreens, cosmetics, harm next generation - mice studies

A study has demonstrated inter-generational harm resulting from exposure to a commonly used nanoparticle, titanium dioxide. A group of Japanese researchers have shown the transfer of nanoparticles from pregnant mice to their offspring, with related brain damage, nerve system damage and reduced sperm production in male offspring. Titanium dioxide is one of the most widely used nanoparticles, found in cosmetics, sunscreens, food packaging, household cleaning products and appliances, paints, dirt repellant coatings for windows and many other applications. The authors of the study warn "Our findings suggest the need for great caution to handle the nanomaterials for workers and consumers". Carbon fullerenes have also previously been shown to damage developing mouse embryos.