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June 18, 2008

European Commission Begins Public Dialogue on Nanotechnologies

Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 17, 2008, the European Commission (EC) issued a press release entitled “Commission starts public dialogue on nanotechnologies — tapping economic and environmental potential through safe products.” According to the EC, while current European Union (EU) legislation “covers in principle” the environment, health, and safety issues concerning nanomaterials, “there is further need for research and international cooperation.” EC will begin a consultation with stakeholders and member states that it intends “to increase knowledge and awareness about the potential of nanotechnologies and to continue to ensure an adequate protection of nature, environment and health.” Under “Next Steps,” the EC states:

Knowledge about the characterisation of nanomaterials, hazard and exposure needs to be improved. The Commission is therefore backing targeted actions in a number of areas and at different levels, particularly in the field of research and development under the Research Framework Programmes FP6 and FP7 and the Commission’s Joint Research Centre.) Such activities are coordinated and discussed with stakeholders and in the framework of the [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)] and the International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) and through international cooperation.

The Commission will also engage in an open dialogue with citizens and stakeholders at large to accompany the correct application of existing legislation to the new products arriving on the market.