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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Nano safety finally becomes a priority

Today:
  1. EU food safety watchdog puzzled by nanotech risks
  2. Industry, NGOs at odds over nanotech regulation
  3. EU completes 16-year pesticide review
  4. Europe urged to curtail its water use
  5. EU wants ICT industry to cut emissions by 20%
I'm not sure how good are the good news, but those are somewhat good. EFSA seems to finally grasp the complexity of nano technology which is good. Read my comments for more info and ENJOY!

EU food safety watchdog puzzled by nanotech risks

6 March 2009

Uncertainties in detecting and measuring levels of nanomaterials could make risk assessment of some nano products extremely difficult, according to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

The agency is calling for a case-by-case approach to determining the risks associated with engineered nanomaterials (ENMs), adding that there is limited knowledge of current usage levels and likely exposure products in the food area.

In its newly-published opinionPdf external on the potential risks arising from nanotechnologies in the food and feed chain, the food safety watchdog says available data on oral exposure to specific ENMs is "extremely limited".

EFSA recommends that additional research and investigation is needed to address the many current uncertainties and data limitations, with a particular focus on the following areas:

  • The interaction and stability of ENMs in food and feed, in the gastro-intestinal tract and in biological tissues;
  • The need for the development of routine methods to detect, characterise and quantify ENMs in food contact materials, food and feed, and;
  • Improvements of test methodologies to assess toxicity of ENMs (including reliability and relevance of test methods).

Prof Vittorio Silano, chair of EFSA's scientific committee, said the issue is a priority for the authority, announcing that an expert group will be established to monitor emerging scientific data. source

My comment: I absolutely agree with their opinion and a post that will be published soon in To The Future With Love will fill you on the latest research on nanotech safety. The found that approximately 76% of the genes are affected in no different way by nano particles, than by ordinary ones. However, some genes, connected with inflammation are not among this percent and what is even more important, as I said there, the difference between humans and monkeys is 2 % of the genes, so 76% really isn't enough to guarantee safety.

Industry, NGOs at odds over nanotech regulation

4 March 2009

A new study has revealed deep divisions on how nanotechnology should be regulated, with environmental lobby groups seeking a moratorium until products are proven to be safe, and industry proposing that specific guidelines be introduced to supplement existing regulations.

The comprehensive new reviewPdf external of existing legislation on nanotechnology, conducted by the FramingNano project, found variation in governance structures across the world and disagreement over whether voluntary codes of conduct will be enough to regulate nanomaterials.

NGOs, including GreenpeacePdf and Friends of the Earth , consider the existing regulatory situation to be inadequate and are urging a strictly precautionary approach.

Industry representatives are instead seeking the development of specific guidance and standards to support implementation of existing regulations, which are generally seen as adequate.

More than half the respondents to date have suggested that regulation on the use of nanomaterials in the production of chemicals and food is inadequate.source

My comment: Again, I also think there definitely should be new regulations on nanotech that account for their different nature and effect on humans and environment. It's not about banning new technology, but for providing a legal framework for its use.

EU completes 16-year pesticide review

16 March 2009

Detailed human health and environmental risk assessment of some 1,000 active substances authorised for use in pesticides before 1991 has led to the removal of more than two thirds of them from the market.

The risk assessment review evaluated each substance with respect to the health of consumers, farmers, groundwater and non-target organisms, such as birds, mammals, earthworms and bees.

According to the European Commission, there were around 1,000 active substances contained in tens of thousands of products on the market when the review was launched in 1993.

The review has led "to the removal from the market of more than two thirds of these substances," said Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, presenting the final results last week.

The majority of substances, about 67%, were eliminated because "dossiers were either not submitted, were incomplete or were withdrawn by the industry," the Commission said. Some 70 substances were withdrawn from the market because the evaluation revealed risks to human health and the environment.

Another 250 substances (26%) passed the harmonised EU safety assessment. A databaseexternal of the approved active substances is being launched today (16 March 2009).

Late last year, the European Parliament and the Council reached agreement on new market authorisation rules for pesticides proposed by the Commission in July 2006 (EurActiv 19/12/08). The regulation, set to enter into force later in 2009, replaces the 1991 Directive on market authorisation of pesticides, under which the sixteen-year review was conducted, and thus restarts the assessment process for substances that are currently authorised. source

My comment: I have discussed the new legislation and I do think it sucks, but it should be better than the old one and in the end, it would lead to something better. If you think about it, they could have banned all the hazardous substances back then, but that would meet very severe response from farmers mostly. Now, they have a little bit better chance to introduce such bans and people to accept them. Even if everything is absurdly lax.

Europe urged to curtail its water use

20 March 2009

European governments must adopt policies to control water demand as rising living standards have pushed the use of water resources beyond sustainable levels, according to a new study published ahead of the World Water Forum in Istanbul.

The report, from the European Environment Agency (EEA), reveals that Europe has so far concentrated on increasing the supply of water rather than exploring ways to limit its demand.

As a result, Southern Europe in particular is experiencing chronic water scarcity, but parts of the north are also under growing water stress, the EEA alleges. Climate change will only exacerbate the situation, it adds.

As people's incomes grow, activities like tourism can significantly increase water use during summertime, when water resources are most scarce, the report says. Taking Spain's Júcar River Basin as an example, it points out that 55 new golf courses are planned there in addition to the existing 19. Each golf course typically uses 500,000 m3 of water. On top of this, huge amounts of water are needed to fill up swimming pools for tourists, the EEA adds.

According to the agency, turning these courses into agricultural land would not use less water, but would bring far fewer economic returns. What Europe needs is "a sustainable, 'demand-led' approach to water resource management, focusing on conserving water and using it more efficiently," it concludes.

The report lists a number of efficient government policies to reduce water consumption, identifying making sure people pay for water according to volume as a first step, because in the past, EU agricultural policy in particular has subsidised unsustainable use.

Installing water meters in homes has already been proven an efficient means of reducing consumption in England and Wales, while modern domestic appliances can reduce water needs for acativities like flushing the toilet, which accounts for 25-30% of domestic water use alone, the report says.

But the agency does not stop here. Raising awareness is crucial in changing habits and lifestyles, it adds. Also, educating farmers on the right choice of crops and irrigation methods can substantially reduce agriculture's contribution to water stress, as the sector currently uses 24% of the water extracted in the EU.source

My comment: Absolutely correct. Unfortunately. I don't want to repeat myself, but people really don't realise how scarce water is and we can get ourselves into very ugly situation. I'm not sure what good do those forum serve, but at the point where governement realise they have a problem, they will use that forum's information. And as of all of us-we can economise water easily-shorters baths, no leaks, fix the toilet and always fill the washing mashines to the fullest.

EU wants ICT industry to cut emissions by 20%

13 March 2009

The European Commission wants the ICT sector to cut its CO2 emissions by 20% before 2015 in exchange for the benefits the industry is expected to reap from EU legislation on smart technologies to tackle climate change.

The ICT industry currently accounts for about 2% of global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), according to estimates by Gartner, a leading consulting firm. The figure is slightly lower than that for the aviation sector, which is in the process of being regulated by the EU via its introduction into the bloc's emissions trading scheme.

The Commission does not foresee binding targets for the ICT industry, but "recommends" the sector to "show the way for the rest of the economy by already reducing its own carbon footprint by 20% by 2015," saidInformation Society Commissioner Viviane Reding, commenting on a document adopted yesterday (12 March) by the EU executive on the issue (EurActiv 23/01/09).

Many major companies have already announced commitments to significantly cut their emissions. BT intends to reduce its carbon footprint by 80% by 2016, compared to 1996 levels.

Vodafone plans to halve its CO2 emissions by 2020, while Intel has announced plans to cut its carbon footprint by 20% by 2012. Handset makers, by contrast, are lagging behind somewhat: Motorola and Nokia have committed to 6% reductions by 2012 and 2010 respectively.

The investments that ICT companies are making to become greener will be offset by relevant savings and growing revenues resulting from smart technologies, a trend which the European Union is underpinning with its markedly pro-energy efficiency policies.

ICT can also reduce the energy consumption of buildings by 17% and the carbon emissions of transport logistics by 27%, believes the EU executive. Brussels is therefore working to broker a partnership between the ICT sector and other major energy-consuming sectors. source

My comment: No comment really. I hope they all do it, but people tend to forget that CO2 isn't the worst greenhouse gas. The pollution as a whole should be limited and energy efficiency maximised.

1 comment:

Denitsa said...

A newer article on a recently approved legsilation on nanotech:
http://www.euractiv.com/en/science/meps-back-new-rules-nanomaterials-cosmetics/article-180605
"The European Parliament yesterday (24 March) updated legislation on cosmetics to take account of advances in nanotechnology. Reactions to the news have been mixed, with consumer groups urging earlier implementation of the proposal and Green MEPs unhappy with the definition of nanomaterials.

A new safety assessment procedure for all products containing nanomaterials will be part of the regulations, which could lead to a ban on a substance deemed to pose a threat to human health.

Any nanomaterials present in cosmetics must be mentioned in the list of ingredients on the product's packaging. "
It's not perfect, but it is a good start!

 

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