Which? calls for action on nanotechnologiesWe want to see a government taskforce set up

29 February 2008

Scientist

Nanotechnologies are big business, attracting substantial investment

Which? has called on the government to deal with the big implications of nanotechnologies without further delay.

Nanotechnologies use materials on an incredibly small scale and products ranging from washing machines to food supplements already claim to use nanomaterials.

With nanotechnology it’s possible to deliberately manipulate materials so that they act differently.

For example, titanium dioxide used in sun screens can become clear rather than white, while gold particles can change to red.

Nanoparticles

This opens up the possibility of changing many types of products – but Which? is concerned that developments are racing ahead.

Some experts have raised concerns that certain nanoparticles may be harmful and this week Which? hosted a specially convened summit on nanotechnologies featuring a keynote address from Science Minister Ian Pearson.

He outlined the government’s vision for nanotechnologies as a measured approach considering all the opportunities and issues that nanotechnologies represent. 

However, we believe a government task force should be set up to take immediate steps to establish how nanotechnologies are being used in the UK.

Current regulations

We want the taskforce to urgently address gaps in current regulations to deal with the unique properties of some nanomaterials.

We've also drawn up a ten point action plan for government so consumers can take advantage of nanotechnologies without being put at unnecessary risk

Which? Chief Policy Advisor Sue Davies said: ‘Nanotechnologies offer many potential benefits; anything from self-cleaning windows to more effective cancer drugs.

‘But the research and regulation isn’t keeping up with the pace of development. It’s the government’s responsibility to ensure consumers are adequately protected - something that’s currently not happening.

‘The government must show a sense of urgency around the need for action. Our ten point action plan sets out the priority areas they must focus on, including ensuring that consumers are adequately informed, protected and engaged in discussions about the future of nanotechnologies.’