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UK Organic Association Bans Nanomaterials From Its Products

(Beyond Pesticides, January 16, 2008) As of January 2008, the UK’s leading campaigning and certification organization for organic food and farming bans man-made nanomaterials from all of its certified organic products. The Soil Association has become the first organization in the world to formally reject having nanomaterials in organic cosmetics, food, and textile products, and prohibits products made with nanoparticles from carrying the pro-organic group’s logo.

In their press release, the association states that they are the first to take action against this hazardous, potentially toxic technology that poses a serious new threat to human health. While the group recognizes some potential benefits from nanotechnology, like its use in medicine and in the renewable energy sectors, there is insufficient evidence about the impact of nanotechnology on the environment and human health.

The Soil Association Standard’s Board decided to ban manufactured nanoparticles as ingredients, in keeping with their organic standards and principles. The initiative stands at the core of the organic movement’s values of protecting human health.

Soil Association policy manager, Gundula Azeez, said, “The Soil Association is the first organization in the world to ban nanoparticles. There should be no place for nanoparticles in health and beauty products or food. We are deeply concerned at the government’s failure to follow scientific advice and regulate products. There should be an immediate freeze on the commercial release of nanomaterials until there is a sound body of scientific research into all the health impacts. As we saw with GM, [Genetic Modification], the government is ignoring the initial indications of risk and giving the benefit of the doubt to commercial interest rather than the protection of human health.”

In July 2007, citing risks to the public, workers and the environment, a broad international coalition of 40 consumer, public health, environmental, and labor organizations released Principles for the Oversight of Nanotechnologies and Nanomaterials. The report called for strong, comprehensive oversight of the new technology and its products, to be built on a precautionary foundation to prevent risks to the public, workers and the environment. (See Daily News Blog of August 23, 2007.)

The manufacture of products using nanotechnology has exploded in recent years. Hundreds of consumer products incorporating nanomaterials are now on the market, including cosmetics, sunscreens, sporting goods, clothing, electronics, baby and infant products, and food and food packaging. But evidence indicates that current nanomaterials can pose significant health, safety, and environmental hazards. Despite this, many companies are not required to have labeling to warn consumers that super fine particles are contained in their products.

Nanotechnology is concerned with the manipulation of matter on the atomic and molecular scale to produce new materials. A nanometre (nm) is a millionth of a millimetre (one 80,000th of the width of a human hair) and a nanoparticle is generally defined as particles of chemicals that are within the range 0.2-100nm. Particles of this size have the potential to have abnormally high levels of solubility and mobility and can pass through the body’s membranes – such as the membranes of the skin, lungs, intestines, the blood/brain barrier and the placenta. The fact that nanoparticles can reach all parts of the body means they may accumulate or override the normal control systems that manage our complex biochemistry, with unidentified health effects.

Source: Guardian Unlimited


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