As the debate intensifies between those for and against nanotechnology, the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development of the Parliamentary Assembly proposed today that the Council of Europe should draw up legal standards which would be designed to protect citizens, while encouraging the potential beneficial use of nanotechnology.

In a draft report (pdf) by Valeriy Sudarenkov (Russian Federation, SOC), the committee acknowledges the potential for enormous benefits (particularly in the medical field) but also expresses concern about the as yet little known threats to public health and the environment despite the fact that nanotechnology is already widely used in commercial applications (such as sunscreen products).

The draft report therefore recommends drawing up guidelines based on the precautionary principle. It should be possible to apply these guidelines systematically regardless of the origin of the nanomaterials concerned and help to harmonise the relevant regulations, particularly with regard to risk assessment and risk management methods, protection of researchers, consumer protection and information, and reporting and registration requirements.


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