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March 26, 2010

African Governments Adopt Resolution Urging Safe Handling of Nanomaterials

Lynn L. Bergeson

The January 25-29, 2010, African regional meeting on the implementation of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) included a workshop on nanotechnology. During the meeting, 53 governments adopted a resolution that calls for a ban on the shipment of waste containing nanomaterials to countries that cannot adequately manage them; legal provisions to ensure the safe use and disposal of nanomaterials; and bio-monitoring for people exposed to nanomaterials. Importantly, it is not clear what exactly waste “containing nanomaterials” includes. The resolution also calls on governments to adopt a “no data, no market” principle, which requires comprehensive hazard assessment information to be submitted before a nanotechnology can be commercialized. The resolution is not binding and recognizes the right of countries to allow the import and use of nanomaterials, but urges that a precautionary approach be taken.