FOEA Emerging tech Project

No nano in recalled ‘Magic Nano’

Go figure? It turns out that ‘Magic Nano,’ the protective glass and bathroom sealant that was recalled in late March in Germany after causing severe breathing problems for some consumers, did not contain any nanoparticles. That’s according to Rene Zimmer of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in Berlin, quoted in an article in small times .

According to the article, not only were there no nanoparticles in Magic Nano, but it appears that it didn’t even include the active ingredients it was supposed to contain. It was supposed to have molecules that contain silicon that, once sprayed on surfaces, generate an oil and water repelling "nanothin" layer of silicon dioxide. But according to Zimmer, the analysis did not find much silicon in ‘Magic Nano.’ For the most part the spray contained solvents.

Apart from raising the obvious questions about the honesty of the company’s representations of their product, it also raises an interesting question over whether ‘nano’ branding is a positive or a negative

It seems that at least for now, companies see the ‘nano’ label as a marketing boon – although it’s not clear whether this will continue as evidence of nanotoxicology continues to mount.

The earlier story reporting on the recall of ‘magic nano’ can be found here.

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Nanomaterials, sunscreens and cosmetics: Small ingredients, big risks

Friends of the Earth’s report “Nanomaterials, sunscreens and cosmetics: Small ingredients, big risks" details the extensive use of nanomaterials in 116 products, from sunscreens and anti-aging creams to shampoos and toothpastes, despite preliminary scientific evidence that many types of nanoparticles can be toxic. Personal care products that contain engineered nanoparticles are being sold despite a complete absence of safety assessment and regulation of nanomaterials. The report also surveys a growing body of scientific research showing that many types of nanoparticles pose risks to consumers, workers and the environment.

The report found that some of the biggest names in cosmetics, including L’Oréal, Revlon and Estée Lauder, as well as many lesser known brands, are rapidly introducing nanomaterials into their products and onto the faces and hands of millions of people, despite a growing body of evidence indicating nanomaterials can be toxic to humans.

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Size matters, public opinion doesn’t

Canberra Times, 8th May 2006, by John Hepburn

The release last month of a Federal Government discussion paper on the development of a national nanotechnology strategy created ‘nano ripples’ throughout the community – so small as to be imperceptible to the human eye.

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Self regulation of synthetic biology?

The Synthetic Biology Biology 2.0 conference on the 21st May in Berkeley, USA has released a public statement in support of self-governance of the emerging nanobiotechnology industry. In the lead up to the conference 35 civil society groups, including Friends of the Earth International, signed an open letter (available below)outlining urgent concerns surrounding synthetic biology. However the declaration by the synthetic biologists failed to address key concerns, including the ethical problems of nanobiotechnology, broader environmental risks and the socio-economic and human rights implications of its use.

The synthetic biologists called for enhanced tools for monitoring DNA synthesis orders to better detect those that could be used to make bioweapons. However they did not propose a mechanism to oversee the use of such monitoring, or to assess its adequacy as a safeguard.

Synthetic Biology is a new area of science made possible by recent breakthroughs in genetic engineering and nanotechnology. It encapsulates the design and construction of new biological parts, devices, and systems, as well as the re-design of existing, natural biological systems. It is a powerful new technology that raises profound ethical questions as well as posing very obvious and serious risks of bioterrorism among otherthings.

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New FoE nano policy calls for moratorium

Friends of the Earth Australia has adopted a new nanotechnology policy. The policy calls for an immediate moratorium on all commercial research, development and release of nanotechnological materials and products. It recommends that given the serious risks associated with nanotechnology’s introduction, public involvement in decision making and the introduction of a regulatory regime based on the precautionary principle must be prerequisites to further commercialisation of nanoproducts. 


The policy provides a brief overview of the serious new risks to human health and the environment that nanotechnology introduces, as well as its potential to result in large-scale economic disruption and the development of new and ever more powerful nano-weaponry.


The policy calls for the democratic control of and public participation in decision making on nanotechnology and other new technologies. It also outlines the necessary components of a future regulatory framework to manage the risks of nanotoxicity, and nanotechnology’s social and economic impacts.

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