January 15, 2013

Regulation and Compliance Top Priority

In a recent global report on business challenges surveying more than 700 leading organizations in 15 countries across seven sectors and interviewing more than 75 sector commentators, Ernst & Young and Oxford Analytica find that regulation and compliance once again top the risk charts. In four of seven sectors, regulation and compliance is seen as the number one risk. In every sector, it ranks among the top four, and in those sectors rating its impact highest, risk levels are expect to increase further by 2013.

See: Turn risks and opportunities into results – Exploring the top 10 risks and opportunities for global organizations

October 5, 2012

“CFIA shouldn’t report to agriculture minister, former senior bureaucrat says”

KATHRYN MAY, The Ottawa Citizen
Link to the article

January 8, 2012 

The development and uses of nanoparticles in a wide range of human and environmental products are an exploding area of research. While there are major benefits to the uses of nanoparticles, there are also challenges stemming from how we assess their risks and impacts on human and environmental health.

These issues were recently explored at the first annual joint meeting of the Toxicology Forum of Washington D.C. and Carleton’s Regulatory Governance Initiative entitled “Nanoparticles: Tools for Toxicology” (held at Carleton University, May 1-3, 2011). The meeting brought together a diverse array of experts and practitioners in the scientific and regulatory fields to discuss recent developments and emerging issues.

Nanomaterials are being manufactured in increasing quantities and are incorporated in ever more consumer products and medical devices that are presumably discarded after their useful properties are exhausted.

In his keynote presentation, Todd Kuiken of the Woodrow Wilson Center, discussed how spending on nanotechnology research in the U.S. has increased significantly over the past decade, particularly in the area of safety assessments. Awareness of nanoparticle-based products is presently modest but this is changing with high profile products, such the inclusion of nanosliver in some fabrics. Based on studies conducted in the U.K. and the U.S.A., consumers view these developments positively, but are concerned about potential long-term health and environment impacts.

As was the case with GM plants, the public seeks clear answers on three questions:

‘why are we doing this’
‘who is it for’, and
‘is it worth it’?
Successful introduction of any new technology is enabled by an understanding of the inherent risks associated with the technology. This problematic was explored at the conference through three themes:

impacts on human health
impacts on environmental health
regulatory challenges and developments
As one example, a presentation on nanofertilizers illustrated both the potential of nanoparticles and the nature of their uncharacterized risk. Peak phosphorous has past and nitrogen fertilizer is energy expensive. Developing nanoparticles comprising nitrogen and phosphorous with synthetic recognition sites targeted to plant exudates could reduce fertilizer dependency and costs. This would potentially enable more food with less land. The problem remains that nothing is known about the effects of such particles on soil biota.

Overall, major themes emerging from the conference’s presentations were how should the potential risks and impacts of nanomaterials be assessed, categorized, communicated to the public and in what manner should they regulated?

In recent years, there have been efforts by both governments and industry to harmonize regulatory processes between Canada and the United States of America. In the words of Sue Saarnio, Minister Councilor for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, there is great value in working together to overcome the ‘tyranny of small differences’ between Canada and the United States in order to develop common positions to work towards internationally. This offers a potentially rewarding course of action as the scientific knowledge and procedures are at an early stage of development and, as a consequence, both countries have considerable flexibility to align their practices while taking into account their unique circumstances.

Dialogue amongst scientists, researchers, industry, academia and regulators in this emerging and important field is immensely beneficial. We hope this will be the first of many annual conferences jointly held by the Toxicology Forum and Carleton’s Regulatory Governance Initiative to focus on this nanotechnology, its benefits and challenges.