The comprehensive new review of existing legislation on nanotechnology, conducted by the FramingNano project, found variation in governance structures across the world and disagreement over whether voluntary codes of conduct will be enough to regulate nanomaterials.
NGOs, including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, consider the existing regulatory situation to be inadequate and are urging a strictly precautionary approach. A number of environmental and consumer organisations want nanomaterials to be classified as new substances and subjected to "nano-specific" regulations, according to the report.
Industry representatives are instead seeking the development of specific guidance and standards to support implementation of existing regulations, which are generally seen as adequate.
Experts gathered for a stakeholder dialogue in Brussels last week, where preliminary results of an ongoing FramingNano survey were revealed. More than half the respondents to date have suggested that regulation on the use of nanomaterials in the production of chemicals and food is inadequate.
There is somewhat less concern about cosmetics, medical products and environmental protection, with still fewer respondents voicing fears over medical devices and occupational health.