Regulating Nanotechnology

The use of nanomaterials is effectively unregulated in New Zealand.

Only cosmetics regulations specifically mention nanomaterials (see more on cosmetics here). Food safety laws also have some size-related requirements. How effective they will be in practice is currently uncertain.

In 2010, the Council released a report illustrating how commercialisation of nanoproducts is racing ahead of regulation in New Zealand. The report focussed on products containing nanoscale silver and nanoscale cosmetic ingredients as examples of the regulatory vacuum.

A year later, Government agencies commissioned a review to establish whether NZ laws capture nanomaterials and properly manage the risks they pose.

The review by the University of Otago Law Faculty’s Centre for Law and Policy on Emerging Technologies found that regulation of nanomaterials is often uncertain if not absent in laws covering workplace safety, environmental protection and consumer products such as cosmetics (see our media statement.)

Government promptly sidelined the report. Two years on there has been no detailed response to this report and how Government intends to fill the gaps in safety protection identified.


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