New nanotechnologies and food sector inquiry

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has announced an inquiry into the use of nanotechnologies in the food sector. The subcommittee conducting the inquiry will be chaired by Lord Krebs, head of the Food Standards Agency until 2005.

It will focus on naturally occurring and manufactured nanoscale materials in food additives and supplements, food packaging and manufacturing, animal feed, pesticides and fertilisers and products that come into contact with food such as containers or utensils. The fate of nanomaterials in waste or potential environmental impacts will not be examined.

The inquiry will focus on the adequacy of current regulatory and risk assessment frameworks - the subject of two European-level reviews published late last year that were positive about present arrangements (ENDS Report 406, p 52 ).

The Environment Department’s (DEFRA) voluntary reporting scheme for nanomaterials, which finished its two-year pilot phase, will also be scrutinised. Options for replacing it were discussed at a meeting of the ministerial group on nanotechnologies (ENDS Report 407, p 54 ). The work will be taken forward by DEFRA and the Business Department (BERR).

The deadline for written submissions is 13 March.

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