viernes, 18 de julio de 2008
FIX University Looks Into Nano Technology
Commission starts public dialogue on nanotechnologies – tapping economic and environmental potential through safe products
Nanotechnologies have enormous potential benefits for manufacturers, consumers, employees, patients and the environment. They will bring more energy and resource efficient processes, improve computer memories and processors and could usher in a new age of customized pharmaceuticals and medical procedures. While current EU legislation covers in principle the challenges for health, safety and environment with regards to nanomaterials, there is further need for research and international cooperation. As more and more products involving nanomaterials are reaching the market, the European Commission will start a consultation with stakeholders and Member States in order to increase knowledge and awareness about the potential of nanotechnologies and to continue to ensure an adequate protection of nature, environment and health.
Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy, said: “A reliable and stable regulatory framework is essential for enabling the EU’s industry to fully exploit the advances of nanotechnologies. With the right structures in place they will boost innovation and contribute to growth, employment creation and competitiveness.”
Commissioner Stavros Dimas responsible for environment policy said: “The regulatory challenge is to ensure that society benefits from novel applications of nanotechnologies, while ensuring a high level of protection of health, safety and the environment and thereby fully applying the precautionary principle.”
Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou responsible for Health said: "In today's Europe, nanotechnologies must be developed in a safe, integrated and responsible way, involving all stakeholders so that new applications can result in real benefits for EU citizens in the area of health."
Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Vladimir Špidla added: "Nanotechnologies hold out exciting opportunities for creating new jobs in Europe, but we must make sure that any potential risks to workers' health and safety are properly addressed in the relevant EU workers protection legislation."
Important economic, social and environmental potential
Nanotechnologies process materials are at the atomic, molecular and macromolecular scale, where properties may differ from those seen at a larger scale. Products based on nanotechnologies are already in use and analysts are predicting explosive economic growth in the sector over the coming decade.
Nanotechnologies will boost innovation in areas such as public health, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), the manufacturing industry, environmental protection, energy, transport, security and space. Forecasts for the world market for nanotechnologies span between 750 to 2000 billion € up to 2015, and the potential for the creation of jobs is estimated to 10 million nano-related jobs by 2014, i.e. 10% of all manufacturing jobs world-wide.
Nanotechnologies are covered by existing legislation such as REACH, the current legislative framework for chemicals, and other specific-sector legislation for food, cosmetics, medicine and etc.,
Improving the knowledge base
The Communication underlines the need for improved routine monitoring devices and better data on toxic and eco-toxic effects, and improved test methods to generate such data. Several aspects of nanomaterial safety require international collaboration to ensure that the nomenclature, standards and test methods can be compared globally, and that the scientific methods used for regulatory purposes are internationally the same. Much work has already been done in this area related to the Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), while under the OECD Committee on Scientific and Technological Policy (CSTP) a Working Party on Nanotechnology was established in March 2007. The objective of this, OECD Work on Nanotechnology,<
Nanotechnology is the set of technologies that enables the manipulation, study or exploitation of very small (typically less than 100 nanometres) structures and systems. Nanotechnology contributes to novel materials, devices and products that have qualitatively different properties. Like information technology, nanotechnology advances have the potential to affect virtually every area of economic activity and aspect of daily life. The number of products and the diversity of nanomaterials and nanosystems are predicted to increase rapidly in the coming decade as a result of continuous innovation in many sectors.
Nanotechnologies pose new opportunities and challenges to governments. Nanotechnologies are likely to offer a wide range of benefits, including in helping address a range of societal and environmental challenges, e.g. in providing renewable energy and clean water, and in improving health and longevity, as well as the environment. However, unlocking this potential will require a responsible and co-coordinated approach to ensure that potential challenges are being addressed at the same time as the technology is developing.
OECD is playing its part in this process and developing a large body of work. Under the Committee on Scientific and Technological Policy (CSTP) a Working Party on Nanotechnology was established in March 2007. The objective of this Working Party is to promote international co-operation that facilitates research, development, and responsible commercialisation of nanotechnology in member countries and in non-member economies.
A work programme is currently being launched to start addressing some of the main policy challenges. This programme will include work on statistics and indicators of nanotechnology; examination of the business environment for nanotechnology; work to foster international collaboration in nanotechnology research; work on public perceptions towards nanotechnology and the engagement of stakeholder communities in the debate on nanotechnology; as well as a dialogue on policy strategies to spread good policy practices towards the responsible development of nanotechnology. Click here for an update on the Working Party's activities as of early 2008.
The work of the Working Party on Nanotechnology complements other activities underway in OECD. The OECD Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials was established in September 2006 and is looking at international co-operation in health and environmental safety related aspects of manufactured nanomaterials.
In essence, by working together, member countries will better understand the potential challenges and opportunities related to nanotechnology so that they can support the responsible development of this technology;>
Working Party is to promote international co-operation which facilitates research, development and responsible commercialisation of nanotechnology in member countries and in non-member economies.
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 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.