May 14, 2009

NGOs disappointed at nano outcomes from International Conference on Chemical Management

Geneva -- “The actions on nanotechnology that were agreed upon today do not reflect the urgency of the issue. The delegates were made aware that nanomaterials are an intergenerational risk, with nanoparticles being passed from mother to child via maternal blood. Yet these risks appear to have been ignored in the response by ICCM2," said Dr. Mariann Lloyd-Smith, IPEN CoChair.

“We are a long way from the statement that was adopted less than a year ago at the meeting organized by the International Forum on Chemical Safety in Dakar,” said Diana Bronson from ETC Group. “There, governments, industry, trade unions and non-governmental organizations had agreed that the precautionary principle needed to be applied, that countries should have the right to say no to nanotechnology and that special measures need to be taken to protect vulnerable groups. We got none of that in Geneva.”

The Dakar statement was undermined during the preparatory period of this conference, marginalizing the UN and along with it, the majority of its member states. Successive drafts, negotiated during late night sessions in English only, placed the OECD and the International Standards Organization firmly in charge of the issue. Not surprisingly, this version failed to get the support of delegates.

“After some tough negotiations, the resolution adopted by the plenary of the conference recognizes the need for a truly global, open and transparent process to address the issues raised by nanotechnologies, states that further research needs to be undertaken, and that wider dissemination of information about the presence of nanomaterials in products is required,” said David Azoulay from the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). “The resolution also contains loose proposals for some modest actions over the next three years: consultation, information sharing, meetings and workshops in different regions, and, critically, a report on the issues of relevance to developing countries and countries in transition to the Third Session of the ICCM. It is now up to organizations and governments who are concerned about these issues to ensure that these actions are provided with the necessary resources so that substantive discussions can take place, leading to a stronger plan of action at ICCM3.”

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