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Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

Unions, Civil Society Groups Reject 'Voluntary Risk Assesment' for Nanotechnology

Posted to the IUF website 13-Apr-2007

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On April 12, the IUF and other national and international trade union and civil society groups jointly issued a public statement condemning efforts by DuPont Chemical Company and the influential US Environmental Defense (ED, formerly Environmental Defense Fund) to promote a voluntary "risk assessment" framework for nanotechnology (the text with the full list of signatories is available here). At a time when a growing number of labour and citizens' groups are calling attention to the potential risks of nanotechnology, and the urgent need for a an international regulatory framework based on the precautionary principle, DuPont and ED will be promoting their program to public and regulatory agencies in the US and abroad.

The 25th IUF Congress (March 19-22) called for an international moratorium on the commercialization of products containing engineered nanoparticles until the potential safety risks and the wider implications for society can be adequately measured and fully evaluated. "Voluntary regulations", the coalition letter notes, "have often been used to delay or weaken rigorous regulation and should be seen as a tactic to delay needed regulation and forestall public involvement."

Commercial products containing engineered nanoparticles - products based on manipulating natural and synthetic materials at the atomic and molecular level - are being rapidly introduced into the IUF and other sectors despite the fact that at present there is is no known method for limiting, controlling or even measuring human exposure to nanomaterials and processes in or outside the workplace.