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January 22, 2008

Danish Report Finds Nanotechnology Covered by Existing Legislation

Lynn L. Bergeson

According to a report recently released by the Danish Ministry of Health and Prevention, nanotechnology research, development, and applications are covered by existing legislation. The report, which includes an English summary, reviews existing national and international legislation in the areas of foods, medicines, the environment, chemicals, and the working environment in relation to current knowledge of nanotechnological products and processes.  The report also includes a chapter on national and international research policy activities, and describes the initiatives, working groups, and network groups the relevant government departments are taking part in, both nationally and internationally. The working group that prepared the report included representatives from the Ministry of the Interior and Health, the Danish Board of Health, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, the Danish Medicines Agency, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, the National Food Institute at the Technical University of Denmark, the Danish Agency for Science, Technology, and Innovation, the Danish Working Environment Authority, and Danish Standards.

The General Summary states:

It is the opinion of the working group that research, development and application of nanotechnology are covered by existing legislation.  In view of this, the working party does not consider there to be a need for special nano-legislation.

However, the working group also considers that there will continue to be a need, determined by future development, to assess and if necessary adapt rules and executive orders etc. within the framework of existing legislation. Work is in progress in a number of national and international forums to create the necessary conditions for such adaptation, in part by establishing standards and limit values.

The [European Union (EU)] and the [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)] are playing a key role in connection with risk assessment of nanotechnology, in part through the EU’s [Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) and Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP)].  It is therefore important to keep an eye out for recommendations and assessments issued by the EU and the OECD, as it will be possible to use these actively in connection with the adjustment of Danish rules and executive orders.