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'Nessie' and The Precautionary Principle
By: Johann W. Wiechers, PhD, JW Solutions
Posted: June 1, 2009
page 3 of 4
When asked for the reasons for this, he commented: “There continues to be no certainty concerning health risks. There is, therefore, a uniform view that further research should be undertaken. Agreement also exists to the extent that the valid legal regulations are suitable and adequate to market safe products in accordance with the current knowledge levels."
Reinhart continued, "[The fact] that, in the new EC Cosmetics Regulation, there will be nano-specific legal provisions is ... somewhat surprising. Wide-ranging significance is attached to the wish for comprehensive consumer protection, which is why the precautionary principle is increasingly being applied also in the field of cosmetics. The EC Commission (Regulatory Aspects of Nanomaterials, 17.06.2008) correspondingly declared that the measures must be founded on the precautionary principle, ‘where the full extent of a risk is unknown, but concerns are so high that risk management measures are considered necessary, as is currently the case for nanomaterials.’”
Reinhart is saying that since science cannot give an absolute answer, and only shows a lack of incriminating evidence, the public remains concerned. The industry will, therefore, put a label on nanoparticle-containing products stating: contains purpose-made nanoparticles, and the general consumer can decide whether or not to use the product. In my view, this is democracy gone too far.
If the scientist can state that no skin penetration of nanoparticles can be sufficiently shown but not conclusively demonstrated, why should the industry ask the general public to decide for themselves? Lawyers call this the precautionary principle but what it really means is that democratically chosen representatives cannot make a decision for the consumer and are asking the consumer to make their own decision.
On June 4, 2009, the personal care industry in Europe could be better represented by voting for members of the European Parliament. Unfortunately, nowhere can one read about the members' view on nanotechnology. Instead of electing representatives that search for Nessie, Europe should elect members that make decisions based on the facts. To my European friends, do not forget your democratic right to vote on June 4.