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EUROPE: EC: Have your say on nanotechnology

Feel strongly about nanotechnology as a force for either good or bad? The European Commission is inviting anyone interested in nanosciences and nanotechnologies research to register their views on the Code of Conduct adopted in February 2008 and the formal recommendation drawn up by EU ministers in September that year.

Brussels expects input from the European research community, policy makers, industry, media and civil society organisations before the consultation closes on 3 January 2010. Results will be fed into a revision of the code and the recommendation next February.

The commission claims the EU code is the most advanced existing model of regulation and governance of nanotechnologies. It lays down guidelines "to ensure that N&N research is undertaken in the Community in a safe, ethical and effective framework, supporting sustainable economic, social and environmental development". The recommendation is an endorsement by the EU member states of the code.

Nanotechnologies, says Brussels, carry lots of hope regarding potential benefits for human health, the environment and quality of life but at the same time...generate worries about risks to health and the environment, as well as for ethics and the respect of fundamental rights. It accepts that interactions of nanoparticles with humans and the environment may not be completely understood and precaution is therefore required.

"The nanotechnologies deriving from these types of research may lead to possible uses that are beyond acceptance by our society, such as human enhancement," the commission says.

The consultation is available at:

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