Food Law News - EU - 2008

EFSA Press Release, 17 October 2008

NANOTECHNOLOGY - EFSA consults on draft opinion on nanotechnologies and food and feed safety

EFSA is today launching a public consultation on its draft scientific opinion in relation to nanoscience and nanotechnologies and food and feed safety. Nanotechnologies involve the use of substances on a very small scale. This draft opinion focuses on engineered nano materials (ENM) that could be deliberately introduced into the food chain. It elaborates on approaches to risk assessment in this field and as such is not an assessment of any specific application of ENM.

The European Commission (EC) has asked for this opinion as a first step because consideration needs to be given as to whether existing risk assessment approaches can be appropriately applied to this new technology. When finalised, EFSA's opinion will then help the EC to explore appropriate measures, assess existing legislation and determine the scope of possible further requests for scientific opinions from EFSA in this field.

EFSA's Scientific Committee (SC), which includes the chairs of all of EFSA's Panels, is leading this work as it has a multi-disciplinary character and is relevant to a number of the Panels' respective areas of expertise. They are being assisted by a Working Group of scientists with relevant expertise.

Key conclusions of the draft opinion include:

Recommendations are made in the draft opinion for further data, research and investigations to address uncertainties and limitations and therefore strengthen the understanding, evidence base and methodologies to be applied in assessing the risk of ENMs. The opinion also gives an indication to potential applicants of the data they would need to provide to allow for a risk assessment.

Comments on the draft opinion can be submitted until 1st December 2008, via the EFSA website. EFSA will also meet with stakeholders to discuss the draft opinion and engage with EU Member States (MS) through its Advisory Forum.

The Working Group and the SC will consider comments and contributions made during the consultation. The final opinion will be adopted, considering the comments received, after the public consultation.

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