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NANOTECHNOLOGY IN THE FOOD CHAIN - Favv

NANOTECHNOLOGY IN THE FOOD CHAIN - Favv

92 discovered in the

92 discovered in the next future, and, hence, some prioritization will always be necessary. In parallel, a realistic estimation of the uncertainties will be required and will be part of the risk assessment process. The consumer (theme 5) But, finally, what will be the reaction of the consumers? G. Gaskell (London School of Economics, U.K.) proposed some useful tracks. First of all, clear communication about the costs and the benefits must be provided and the uncertainties must be documented. Consumers are more prone to accept some kinds of materials (e.g. natural NPs such as clay materials) and some types of applications (e.g. smart packaging). Food is a very sensitive topic and labelling will likely be required by the consumers, certainly when engineered NPs are considered. It is thus clear that the participation of the consumer in the decision process is highly recommended in order to ensure his social engagement. This was obviously not the case for the GMO’s applications with some rather irrational consequences, at least in Europe. Regulatory aspects (theme 6) Last but not least, and probably on top of the current priorities are the regulatory aspects as highlighted in the sixth theme with the presentation of E. Poudelet (EC DG Health and Consumers). As already mentioned above, we need definitions to be able to further progress in the regulatory field. We also need instruments for tracing NPs through their full life cycle, from synthesis, introduction on the market, transport, utilization, to elimination of the waste. Some important recommendations were identified and put forward during a nano event organized two months ago in the framework of the Belgian presidency of the EU Union (Towards a regulatory framework for the traceability of nanomaterials, Brussels, 14 September 2010). Regulatory and standardization work will be needed for several other key points as mentioned by several speakers during this symposium, such as the methodology of risk assessment, the validation of methods for the detection and characterization of NPs, the production of reference materials, the integration of these new

methods in current food labs, etc . The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is currently very active in this field. Concluding thoughts Finally, as general points to feed our discussions and thoughts, I would like to refer to the so- called “Deficit Model” or even “The New Deficit Model” (Simon Brown (2009) The New Deficit Model, Nature Nanotechnology (4) 609-611) that clearly illustrates the challenges linked to the development of emerging complex technologies. It seems that when dealing with such complex matters we are only able to see the top of the Iceberg and still we must allow the development of new technologies when they are really providing new opportunities of sustainable development. This will be only possible by adopting rather pragmatic approaches based, among others, on case by case studies and by paying attention to the real needs of our society. 93

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