On 24th April the European Parliament plenary adopted the report by Swedish Green MEP Carl Schlyter on the regulatory aspects of nanomaterials (1). He commented: “I am delighted that an overwhelming in Parliament majority backed my criticism of the Commission’s unacceptable ‘wait-and-see’ attitude towards nanomaterials and instead called for a complete overhaul of relevant Community legislation within two years to make nanomaterials safe”.

“Nanomaterials find their ways into more and more consumer products – in particular highly sensitive ones such as cosmetics, cleaning products and textiles. It is neither safe nor responsible to allow such products on the market with almost no information about their use and their safety, and no specific legal provisions to ensure they are not harmful.

“It is particularly irresponsible for the Commission to suggest that general Community legislation covers the risks of nanomaterials and that we mostly only need to improve implementation of current legislation, when Community legislation due to the absence of nano-specific provisions is effectively blind to its risks. It is like pretending that you could catch plankton with a net to fish salmon.

“The resolution adopted today by the European Parliament is more than a wake-up call for the Commission and the chemical industry: it is a loud and clear demand that the Commission needs not only to revise its stance on nanomaterials, but that it needs to revisit all relevant Community laws in the next two years to ensure safety for all applications of nanomaterials over their life cycle.

In doing so, the Parliament has backed my call that the Commission should implement the principle ‘no data, no market’: we just cannot allow nanomaterials to be put onto the market with no or inadequate safety assessments.

“While the use of nanomaterials comes with the promise of many (yet to be proven) benefits, they may also present significant new risks due to their minute size, such as increased reactivity and mobility, possibly leading to increased toxicity in combination with unrestricted access to the human body.

“It is in the best interest of the safe development of this new technology to swiftly put specific and adequate legal provisions for nanomaterials into place – otherwise it is just a matter of time until the first big scandal will discredit the whole technology.”

Notes to editors: (1) 362 in favour, 4 against, 5 abstentions

Press Release Strasbourg, 24 April 2009