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September 23, 2016

Germany Publishes Review of the Joint Research Strategy of the Higher Federal Authorities

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

Germany Publishes Review of the Joint Research Strategy of the Higher Federal Authorities

On September 19, 2016, the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) published a report entitled Review of the joint research strategy of the higher federal authorities — Nanomaterials and other advanced materials:  Application safety and environmental compatibility.  The report states that in a long-term research strategy, the higher federal authorities responsible for human and environmental safety — the German Environment Agency (UBA), the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), BAuA, the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM), and the National Metrology Institute (PTB) — are accompanying the rapid pace of development of new materials from the points of view of occupational safety and health, consumer protection, and environmental protection.  The report states that the goals of application safety and environmental compatibility for advanced materials and derived products are intended to reduce significantly unacceptable risks to humans and the environment.  According to the report, this can be achieved by:

  1. Using safe materials without hazardous properties for humans and the environment (direct application safety); or
  2. Product design for low emissions and environmental compatibility over the entire product lifecycle (integrated application safety); or
  3. Product stewardship, where producers support users in taking technical, organizational, and personal safety measures for the safe use and disposal of products (supported application safety).

As a comprising part of the federal government’s Nanotechnology Action Plan 2020, the update of the joint research strategy aims to contribute to governmental research in the following main areas:

  • Characterizing and assessing the human and environmental risks of advanced materials;
  • Supporting research institutions and business enterprises;
  • Science-based revision of legal requirements and recommendations; and
  • Public acceptance.

The report states that the research strategy will be implemented in projects and other research-related activities, including governmental research, tendering and extramural research funding, and participation in mostly publicly supported projects with third-party funding.  Agencies will use interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches to connect better risk and safety research with innovation research and material development.  To keep up with the pace of development, the time horizon for the research strategy extends to 2020.  The research objectives in the report address the research approaches likely to be actionable in this period.  The research strategy will be supported by a working group and be evaluated and revised by the end of the Nanotechnology Action Plan 2020.