Organic Pioneer Says No to Nano

ETC Group Welcomes World’s First ‘Nano-free’ Standard
Now that you can drive your ‘nano’ car, listening to your iPod ‘nano’ while wearing ‘nano’ sunscreen and ‘nano’ clothing, the UK’s largest organic certifier has just introduced the perfect nano-antidote – a ‘nano-free’ standard for consumer products. The Soil Association – one of the world’s pioneers of organic agriculture – announced today that it is has banned human-made nanomaterials from the organic cosmetics, foods and textiles that it certifies. (1)


According to the U.S.-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, there are over 500 manufacturer-identified consumer products on the market that contain nanomaterials. However, since manufacturers are not required to disclose the presence of nano-scale materials, it’s virtually impossible for people to make fully informed choices. In its newly published standard, the Soil Association bans the use of human-made nanomaterials whose basic particle size is less than 125nm and whose mean particle size is less than 200nm. While the Soil Association’s ban only affects organic production for goods certified in the UK, other organic certifiers worldwide are expected to follow suit.

“We welcome this sensible move by the Soil Association and encourage other certifiers, companies and governments to follow their lead,” said Jim Thomas of ETC Group. “A decade ago the Soil Association led the way in creating a safe alternative to GM crops when they declared organic production to be GM-free and now they are trailblazing again – acting to protect the public from potential risks of engineered nanoparticles.” In 2003 ETC Group first called for a moratorium on nanotechnology research until governments adopt agreed-upon safety standards and regulatory oversight.

Despite a flood of commercial nanotech products and a paucity of studies on the health, safety and environmental impacts of nano-scale materials, the regulatory vacuum persists today. A 2007 survey by 15 governments estimates there are at least 70 nanotech food-related applications already on the market. According to Helmut Kaiser Consultancy, the nanotechnology market for food and food processing could reach $20.4 billion by 2010, and most major food and beverage corporations are investing in nanotech R&D.
 

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