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In 2012, the Council of Europe (CoE) Parliamentary Assembly began the first steps towards nanotechnology regulation with a view to respecting the scientific precautionary principles. It commissioned an expert report, "Nanotechnology: balancing benefits and risks to public health and the environment", enthusiastically accepted at the CoE meeting of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development in November 2012. That same report is slated for public debate before the entire Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg France, April 26, 2013.
As an established vanguard for law governing the right to health, public health and consumer protection throughout Europe, the Council of Europe and its human rights court has remained a leading model for jurisprudence throughout the world. Its 47 (forty seven) Member nations embrace 800 million people, including Switzerland. CoE efforts in consumer protection and environmental health exemplify the concept that protection and promotion of the health and welfare of its citizens is considered to be one of the most important functions of the modern state". CoE legal instruments frequently are the basis of juridical determinations in the Court of Human rights and serve as influential models for the entire world.
The report outlines essential European legal concepts for public discourse concerning nanotechnology safety and the regulation of nanotechnology in commerce: First, the report offers an overview of the legal landscape in nanotechnology regulation confronting everyone: bioethics issues, impact on human and non-human health, environmental impact and the promise of nanomedicine for improving everyone's quality of life. Second, the report helps to chart a path regarding possible treaties or international agreements governing the use and monitoring of nanotechnology.
"Nanotechnology's revolution for commerce can revolutionize public health,"said nanolaw expert, Ilise L Feitshans JD and ScM who authored the report, "but it requires civil society's forethought to maximize nanotechnolgy's benefits."
Benefits of applying nanotechnology include medical miracles and social transformations that will correct long standing system problems in access, public awareness and delivery of services associated with public health, because nanotechnology will change these antiquated systems anyway. But, application of nanotechnology often requires use of well established toxic and hazardous materials such as titanium dioxide in a format where it exhibits novel properties. So, no one can declare that any application of nanotechnology is completely safe, even though quantifying the risks is premature. "Nanotechnology poses the greatest bioethical issue of informed consent for the 21st Century, for Europe and for the rest of the world, " she added, because "The state of the art is such that decsionmakers have more questions than answers".
An excellent example of nanotechnology in daily use is found on the website from the Swiss government, nanocube. org. Its interactive photos identify over fifty household items using naotechnology from refrigerator linings (in the house or in transport of food from producer to grocery store) to bicycle tires and cosmetics-- some products on the market since 2005 Legislative initiatives can therefore weave a strong global safety net protecting health, well-being and the right to life itself by applying nanotechnology.
« We can do this! » Ilise said, referring to the need for resolving nanotechnology's regulatory dilemmas. « Successful risk management to harness new technology is the hallmark of the past successes: In the late twentieth century, these two policy strands of knowledge: science and law often were jumbled together; creating some of the world's knottiest problems in leg islation and subsequent regulation of business to protect health and life at work in civil society. But without causing catastrophic harms that devasted the world".
The legislative bodies of the Council of Europe have therefore begun consideration of accelerated efforts to create and implement the scientific precautionary principles into nanotechnology applications, with due regard for freedom of research and innovation and consumer health. This is based in part on legal authority established I n 2005, when the Heads of State and Government of member states of the Council of Europe declared their goal "to ensure security for our citizens in the full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms" while meeting, "challenges attendant on scientific and technical progress". As the only pan-European body with an international human rights protection mandate, the report suggests that it behoves these bodies to consider setting legal standards for commercial applications of nanotechnology based on precautionary principles, in order to protect millions of European consumers from risk of serious harm, without hindering nanotechnology's potential growth despite economic crisis.
« Because of the ubiquitous character of nanotechnology in shaping future international relations, global commerce in food and consumer products and environmental protection, one cannot overstate the importance of Ilise' s path-breaking work in international health law and policy concerning the emerging risks from nanotechnology. Therefore, Ilise's unique set of multi-disciplinary research skills, her deep thinking and clear writing holds great future importance for understanding the impact of nanotechnology upon the human right to health », said her Thesis Advisor, Dr. Mark D. Hoover, PhD, CHP, CIH Senior Research Scientist Division of Respiratory Disease Studies NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the USA.
ilise L Feitshans JD and ScM Visiting Scintist Institute for Work and health University of lasusanne vaud Switzerland and Doctoral candidate "Forecasting Nanolaw" Geneva School of Diplomacy
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