21 June 2007 23:29 [Source: ICIS news]
In a joint statement, DuPont and Environmental Defense (ED) said they had developed “a comprehensive framework to assist with responsible development and use of nanotechnology”, suggesting that the guidelines could inform global debate and assist regulators.
The company and ED said the framework provides “a systematic and disciplined process for evaluating and addressing the environmental, health and safety risks of nanomaterials across all stages of a product’s life cycle - from initial sourcing through manufacture, use and recycling or disposal”.
The framework, which is available to industry and the public at a web site organised by DuPont and ED, offers a six-step process for organisations to identify, assess and manage potential risks, according to DuPont.
Gwen Ruta, director of corporate partnerships at Environmental Defense, said: “Our intent is to help reap the full promise of this technology without creating unintended consequences. We want to get this right the first time around.”
However, an international coalition of environmental, labour and corporate watchdog groups charged on Thursday that the DuPont-ED framework “is fundamentally flawed”.
The group said in a statement that the DuPont-ED framework “is at best a public relations campaign that detracts from urgent worldwide oversight priorities for nanotechnology”.
“At worst, the initiative could result in highly reckless policy and a precedent of abdicating policy decisions to industry by those entrusted with protecting our people, communities and land,” the group said.
The coalition, which includes Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the United Steelworkers, among others, urged rejection of the framework.
Linda Fisher, DuPont’s vice president for sustainability, said the framework was not meant to be a substitute for regulation, although “we hope that it assists governments in drafting appropriate regulations”.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is developing a regulatory plan for nanomaterials, said on Thursday that it looks forward to working with DuPont and ED “as we continue our efforts to achieve a common goal of better understanding of the potential risks and benefits of nanoscale chemical materials”.
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