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Posted: May 31, 2008

Nanotechnology accountability: Responsible Nano Code update

(Nanowerk News) Back in July 2007, the Royal Society, Insight Investment, the Nanotechnology Industries Association and the Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network launched "Responsible NanoCode" – an initiative for businesses working with nanotechnologies (Responsible nanotechnology code for business to be developed).
After a public consultation and several rounds of meetings, the Working Group of the Responsible Nano Code has finalized the Seven Principles of the Code for Responsible Nanotechnology and a series of Examples of Good Practice. These Examples will be the starting point for a more detailed Benchmarking Framework, which will used to independently assess the extent to which organizations involved in the research, production, retail and disposal of products using nanotechnologies are operating according to the Code. This Framework will be developed over the next 5 months.
The Responsible Nano Code will therefore work in two ways:
1. Organizations will be encouraged to adopt the Seven Principles of the Responsible Nano Code. They can also refer to the Examples of Good Practice that provide suggestions as to how each Principle might be implemented. In addition, the benchmarking process will be designed to assess the extent to which they are achieving best practice and to help them continuously improve.
2. A group of organizations (to be determined) involved in nanotechnology will, in 2009, and possibly thereafter, be benchmarked to assess the extent to which they are operating according to this Framework; this may include both companies that adopt and don’t adopt the Code. The intention is for this benchmarking process to be undertaken by an independent group of stakeholders (to be defined).
The Code and the benchmarking process are intended to stimulate these organizations to consider and continuously improve all aspects of their involvement with nanotechnologies - including governance, risk assessment, broader social and ethical issues and to take into account the views of their stakeholders.
Following the agreement of the Seven Principles of the Code and the Examples of Good Practice on May 13th 2008, the Working Group convened a Benchmarking Sub Group, led by Rachel Crossley of Insight Investment. This will develop the detailed criteria – the Framework of Good Practice - and develop the Benchmark process.
This Sub Group intends to complete its work by the end of September 2008, at which point the Code and Benchmarking Framework will be formally launched, and the independent group who will undertake the benchmarking process identified. Organizations are encouraged to adopt the Code from now on; the initiative expects that the first Benchmarking process will take place in 2009.
The Seven Principles of the Responsible Nano Code
These seven Principles form the basis of the Responsible Nano Code. As the Code is designed for adoption by organizations involved in the research, development, manufacturing, retailing, disposal and recycling of products using nanotechnologies, it is likely that some Principles may have more relevance to certain organizations than others.
Principle One – Board Accountability
Each organization shall ensure that accountability for guiding and managing its involvement with nanotechnologies resides with the Board or is delegated to an appropriate senior executive or committee.
Principle Two – Stakeholder Involvement
Each organization shall identify its nanotechnology stakeholders, proactively engage with them and be responsive to their views.
Principle Three – Worker Health & Safety
Each organization shall ensure high standards of occupational health and safety for its workers handling nano-materials and nano-enabled products. It shall also consider occupational health and safety issues for workers at other stages of the product lifecycle.
Principle Four – Public Health, Safety & Environmental Risks
Each Organization shall carry out thorough risk assessments and minimize any potential public health, safety or environmental risks relating to its products using nanotechnologies. It shall also consider the public health, safety and environmental risks throughout the product lifecycle.
Principle Five – Wider Social, Environmental, Health and Ethical Implications and Impacts
Each organization shall consider and contribute to addressing the wider social, environmental, health and ethical implications and impacts of their involvement with nanotechnologies.
Principle Six – Engaging with Business Partners
Each organization shall engage proactively, openly and co-operatively with business partners to encourage and stimulate their adoption of the Code.
Principle Seven – Transparency and Disclosure
Each organization shall be open and transparent about its involvement with and management of nanotechnologies and report regularly and clearly on how it implements the Responsible Nano Code
For further information on the Responsible Nano Code see www.responsiblenanocode.org or contact Hilary Sutcliffe at Responsible Futures on +44 (0) 207 520 9086 or email: hilary@responsiblefutures.com
Source: Responsible Nano Code