Consumers back nanotech benefits, but remain wary

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Risk assessment Nanotechnology European union Risk

A new study has found European consumers think the benefits of nanotechnology outweigh the potential risks, but are concerned about current risk assessment procedures.

They want to see better labelling in foods, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, to indicate the presence of nanotechnologies, the Landmark Europe survey called 'Nanotechnology in Consumer Products'​ found.

The coming five years would be critical with a new European Parliament and new Commission, that presents an opportunity for stakeholders to influence policy.

Nanotechnologies hold great promise, but Europe is a notoriously risk-averse environment. It demands public debate, cautious risk assessment and transparency towards consumers​,” said Jacqueline Smith, lead author and a partner at Landmark Europe.

While science can guide risk assessment, it cannot engineer public acceptance. This can only be achieved through open dialogue, a supportive innovation environment, a solid but proportionate regulatory framework and, on the part of industry in particular, responsibility, transparency and intelligent communications.​”

She added: “The development of a European regulatory framework is at a critical junction. This time of institutional and political renewal should be an opportunity for the EU to take the lead in building a successful policy framework for nanotechnologies.It will be in every stakeholder’s interest to participate constructively in the complex dialogues that will no doubt shape and underpin policy-making. In this context, the importance of building trust cannot be overstated​.”

Landmark Europe managing director, Rocco Renaldi, reiterated the fact the EU had to take leadership in nano, “but a clear direction has not yet been set.​”

In mooted EU Novel Foods amendments, engineered nanomaterials would have to be labelled to differentiate them from those that occur naturally.

“It was agreed that names of all of the nanoingredients in a product should be followed by the word ‘nano’ in brackets,”​ EAS adviser, Aleksandra Wesolowska, told recently.

“However, there was no agreement on special labelling conditions for foods produced with aid of nanotechnology.”

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