ABOUT THE ISSUE
Nanotechnology is a fast developing research and production area in numerous fields including biotechnology, medicines, cosmetic products and food. The size of nanoparticles is between 1 and 100 nanometers (1 nanometre = 1 billionth of 1 metre).
Although people are exposed to naturally occurring nanoparticles, the surge in manufactured nanomaterials increases exposure and raises concerns, as the potential health risks are not known and a high use of animals is expected to evaluate them.
WHAT IS THE CURRENT SITUATION
Several parts of the European Commission are working on nanomaterials (DG Environment, Enterprise, Research and SANCO), more specifically on a definition and on determining risk assessment and management criteria.
At present there are no EU rules for the authorisation of food containing nanoparticles, except related to labelling.
Internationally, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development is studying a sample of 14 nanomaterials and examining various aspects of nanotechnology; including looking at alternative methods in nanotoxicology, through 8 different projects.
WHAT ARE WE CALLING FOR
- The EU needs to recognise the need for tests not involving animals and to act to develop and validate these alternative test methods.
- Eurogroup urges that in all circumstances in developing or determining testing procedures for safety of nanomaterials, non-animal test methods are used.