Annual report of the EFSA Scientific Network of Risk Assessment of Nanotechnologies in Food and Feed for 2015

Question Number
EFSA-Q-2015-00596
Issued
18 December 2015
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Abstract

To enhance cooperation with Member States on specific topics, EFSA established in 2010 Scientific Networks, among which the Network for Risk Assessment of Nanotechnologies in Food and Feed. This Network is used to facilitate harmonisation of assessment practices and methodologies, to enhance exchange of information and data between EFSA and Member States and to achieve synergies in risk assessment activities. The Annual reports of the Network inform the public, stakeholders, research community, risk assessment community and the EFSA Advisory Forum about its specific activities and advice. During 2015, the Network followed-up on its priority topic to discuss test methods and test results that are relevant for risk assessments at EFSA. At its 2015 meeting, twenty Network experts participated and focussed on issues that merit further method development or scientific unravelling such as the physico-chemical characterisation, the role of solubility/shape/coating in translocation mechanisms and toxicity as well as the risk assessment of soft nanomaterials and the fate and effects of nanoparticles in the environment. Updated information was presented by the Joint Research Centre and a representative of the EU Framework Program 7 project NanoDefine on the technical aspects and implementation of the EC Recommended definition for Nanomaterial. The Network received overviews of the activities on nanomaterials in the European Chemicals Agency and the European Medicines Agency, based on which synergies and common needs were further explored. The Network also exchanged views on the risk assessment of applications (being) assessed at EFSA and comprising implicitly or explicitly nanoforms. The list with national research projects and the list with contact details of national laboratories that can analyse nanomaterials in complex matrices were updated.

Summary

As recommended by EFSA’s Management Board, EFSA wishes to develop networking, stronger co-operation with the Member States and strengthen its relationship with its institutional partners (EU and international) and stakeholders. Under EFSA’s strategy for co-operation and networking with Member States, the Scientific Network for Risk Assessment of Nanotechnologies in Food and Feed (hereafter referred to as the ‘Nano Network’) was established in 2010. The Nano Network convenes once per year and produces its annual reports to inform the public and the EFSA Advisory Forum on its progress and activities. This Nano Network functions as a pool of knowledge and a platform to exchange scientific views on issues relevant for the risk assessment of nanomaterials in the agri/food/feed sector.

The Nano Network is currently composed of delegates from twenty-two Member States and from Norway, appointed though the EFSA Advisory Forum. Each year, the Nano Network meetings have hosted delegates from the European Commission (DG SANTE, DG Research & Innovation and JRC), other EU Agencies, from the EFSA Scientific Committee and/or from the relevant EFSA Units/Panels.

The main functions of the Nano Network are: (1) to provide a forum for dialogue among participants on issues that require more knowledge and expert consultation; (2) build mutual understanding of risk assessment principles; (3) enhance knowledge on and confidence in the scientific assessments carried out in the EU; and (4) provide increased transparency in the current process among Member States and EFSA on nanotechnology. All this with the overall goal to raise the level of harmonisation of the risk assessments developed in the EU for nanomaterials in the agri/food/feed sector.

During 2015, the Nano Network followed-up on its four priority topics: (1) the need for an inventory of nanomaterials in products on the market; (2) the analysis and monitoring of products under development and on the market; (3) the need for suitable measuring methods e.g. for physico-chemical properties; and (4) the need for validated test methods in vitro and in vivo.

At its annual meeting on 7-8 July 2015 in Parma (IT), twenty Network delegates from Member States participated and six of them presented important research relevant for risk assessments at EFSA. The key priority this year was to focus on test methods, test results and to identify issues that merit further method development or scientific unravelling such as the physico-chemical characterisation, the role of solubility/shape/coating in translocation mechanisms and toxicity, the risk assessment of soft nanomaterials and the fate and effects of nanoparticles in the environment.

Reports from the JRC and the EU Framework Program 7 project NanoDefine gave practical insights into the technical aspects and implementation of the EC Recommended definition for Nanomaterial. This allowed further discussions and understanding of how this definition will be implemented as a general reference across fields of application.

The Nano Network received overview presentations of the activities on nanomaterials in the European Chemicals Agency and the European Medicines Agency, based on which synergies and common needs were further explored.

The Network also exchanged views on the risk assessment of applications (being) assessed at EFSA and comprising implicitly or explicitly nanoforms.

The list of national research projects and the list of contact details of national laboratories that can analyse nanomaterials in complex matrices were updated. The Nano Network has also been active in providing input for a wish-list of standards for risk assessment, correcting published information by third parties and has participated in trainings organised by EFSA.

Published
11 January 2016