Posted: June 4, 2007

Agriculture and food workers question nanotechnology

(Nanowerk News) The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers Associations (IUF) is an international federation of trade unions of workers in agriculture and crops, the preparation and processing of food and drinks, hotels, restaurants and catering services, and all phases of the production and processing of tobacco. It is a huge federation with a long history, stretching back to 1920. Today its membership is made up of 336 unions from 120 countries, representing a total of twelve million workers.
The Latin American Regional Secretariat of this federation (Rel-UITA) met in October, 2006, in Santo Domingo, for its 13th regional conference. With the presence of thirty-nine workers organizations from fourteen countries and ninety-five delegates a resolution was issued on nanotechnologies. In general terms, the declaration called for public debate, warning that products containing nanocomponents were being launched onto the market before civilian society and social movements had a chance to assess their possible implications in economic, environmental and social terms and their effect on human health.
Furthermore, the declaration warned of the need to make sure that the debate of a matter that will lead to deep social changes should not be left to the experts.
This is possibly the first declaration issued at a continental level by a federation of trade unions. Months later, in March, 2007, the 25th Congress of the IUF was held in Geneva. Rel-UITA introduced the Santo Domingo resolution into the talks, and it was approved, thereby extending its impact to all 120 countries and over 12,000,000 workers. A resolution of this nature, clearly questioning the way nanotechnology and their products are being introduced, certainly means that reflection on this issue is necessary.
A paper ("Agriculture and food workers question nanotechnologies. The IUF resolution"), authored by Guillermo Foladori and Noela Invernizzi, with a detailed discussion of the IUF resolution can be found on the website of the Latin American Nanotechnology & Society Network. The resolution on nanotechnology (in Spanish) is posted on the UITA website.
Source: Latin American Nanotechnology & Society Network