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Nanotechnology: Public Participation and Regulation

Volume 474: debated on Thursday 3 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (1) what plans he has to take forward public engagement on nanotechnologies; and how his plans for public engagement will feed into policy in 2008-09; (196966)

(2) when he will implement the recommendations of each Government-commissioned review on the regulatory framework for nanotechnology;

(3) if he will set out a (a) timescale and (b) process for evaluating progress on the Government’s commitments regarding nanotechnologies. (196995)

The Government’s aim is for the UK to derive maximum benefit from nanotechnologies and their products in a way that safeguards health, safety and the environment and addresses the aspirations and concerns of the public. The statement by the UK Government about nanotechnologies, announced in the written ministerial statement of 28 February 2008, Official Report, columns 86-7W, explains what the Government are doing to deliver these objectives.

The Government do not hold a list of products containing free nanoparticles although it has published a report on the manufacture and use of nanomaterials in the UK:

To promote a standardised approach to labelling and ensure that products containing manufactured nanoparticles can be correctly identified, the British Standards Institute has recently published a good practice guidance document PAS 130:2007 ‘Guidance on the labelling of manufactured nanoparticles and products containing manufactured nanoparticles’.

The Research Councils are undertaking public dialogue on nanotechnologies and the topic is likely to feature in work resulting from the recent programme of stakeholder engagement to identify the implications of new and emerging science and technology.

Government Departments and agencies are keeping under review the need for action to address regulatory gaps in the light of emerging evidence. The ministerial group on Nanotechnologies (which comprises the Ministers Science and Innovation; the Environment; Public Health; Health and Safety; and Business and Competitiveness) will oversee the process and will also review progress on delivery of the Government’s other commitments regarding nanotechnologies.