9th International Nano-Authorities Dialogue in Vaduz
The 9th International Nano-Authorities Dialogue took place on 10 and 11 June 2015 at the invitation of the Agency of Environment of the principality of Liechtenstein. The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) is a member of the steering group in which topics and the organisation of the dialogue are decided on. The International Nano-Authorities Dialogue is an annual event offering a dialogue platform for environmental, health and occupational safety authorities and scientists from German speaking countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein). This year, more than 50 representatives of ministries, authorities, research institutes and companies from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein addressed the topic "governance and regulation of nanomaterials". Discussions were held on the requirements and the need for future regulation of nanomaterials as well as on the possibilities for the sustainable development of nanotechnologies. The Nano-Authorities Dialogue takes place on a rotational basis in the German speaking countries.
This year's dialogue was held over two days: On the first day of the event, current issues were discussed exclusively between the authorities and representatives of the European Commission. This was followed by an intensive and diverse exchange of ideas between regulatory bodies and representatives of industry and associations on the second day.
State of science and regulation
As an introduction to the discussion about the "status quo" of nano-regulation, safety research and development, Otto Linher of the European Commission presented the state of regulation at EU level. In addition, he talked about current developments in the registration of nanomaterials and possible adaptations of the regulations (in particular of the EU chemicals regulation REACH). Professor Wolfgang Parak of the University of Marburg held a presentation showing the evolution of research into nanomaterials, focusing in particular on the use of nanomaterials in medicine. Besides promising applications he also mentioned the need for improved characterisation of new materials.
Reports about the toxicology of nanomaterials by Professor Barbara Rothen-Rutishauser of the University of Fribourg (human toxicology), Dr Kristin Schirmer of EAWAG (environmental toxicology) and Professor Harald Krug of EMPA (state of safety research) completed the pre-conference presentations. The afternoon of the first day was organised in workshops on the topics environmental, consumer, and occupational safety followed by a concluding synthesis.
Common measures and responsibilities in the use of nanomaterials
The first day revealed priority fields of action from the view of the authorities. These were then presented to industry and association representatives on the second day for discussion. In turn, five brief presentations provided insight into the views and needs of diverse industrial stakeholders. Professor Hoda Tawfik of MagForce AG, Carolin Kranz of BASF SE, Michael Jung of Nanogate AG, Hans-Jürgen Klockner of the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI) and Andreas Falk of BioNanoNet introduced the different applications of nanomaterials and formulated the expectations of companies from the authorities. Subsequently, specific opportunities for cooperation as well as questions of responsibility for the safety of nanoproducts were discussed.
To conclude the Nano-Authorities Dialogue 2015 an outline of a "roadmap 2020" on the regulation of nanomaterials was drawn up. The roadmap includes suggestions for joint measures to ensure the safe and sustainable use of nanomaterials. The results of the dialogue are the basis for further discussions about regulatory needs on a national as well as the European level. Together with the competent German authorities, the BMUB is actively involved in the relevant working groups on adapting REACH to nanomaterials.
The 10th International Nano-Authorities Dialogue will take place in Spring 2016 in Switzerland at the invitation of the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). The Nano-Authorities Dialogue is organised by the BMUB every four years. The dialogue was held in Berlin in 2014.