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Code of Conduct for Responsible N&N Research

The European Commission's 'Recommendation on a Code of Conduct (CoC) for Responsible Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies (N&N) Research' aims to frame future research development within a set of seven general principles. Based on these principles, EU Member States are invited to take concrete action to ensure that nanotechnologies are developed in a safe manner.

  1. Meaning: nanotechnology research should be comprehensible to the public. It should respect fundamental rights, and be conducted in the interest of the well-being of individuals and society in its design, implementation, dissemination and use.
  2. Sustainability: research activities should be safe, ethical, and contribute to sustainable development. They should not harm or pose a threat to people, animals, plants or the environment, at present or in the future.
  3. Precaution: activities should be conducted in accordance with the precautionary principle, anticipating potential environmental, health and safety impacts of nanotechnology outcomes as well as taking due precautions (proportional to the level of protection), while encouraging progress for the benefit of society and the environment.
  4. Inclusiveness: governance of nanotechnology research activities should be guided by the principles of openness to all stakeholders, transparency and respect for the legitimate right of access to information. It should allow participation in the decision-making processes of all stakeholders involved in or concerned by nanotechnology research activities.
  5. Excellence: nanotechnology research should meet the best scientific standards, including integrity of research and good laboratory practices.
  6. Innovation: governance of nanotechnology activities should encourage maximum creativity, flexibility and planning ability for innovation and growth.
  7. Accountability: researchers and research organisations should remain accountable for the social, environmental and human health impacts of their work.

The recommendation is aimed at EU Member States and addresses all stakeholders involved in N&N research, such as universities, research institutes and companies. The recommendation proposes the adoption and promotion of a CoC for Responsible N&N Research by inviting them to apply the precautionary principle and the aforementioned political commitments to N&N research. Of course, the CoC should apply in the first instance to research supported by the European Commission.

The core objective of the 'Nanosciences, Nanotechnologies, Materials and New Production Technologies (NMP)' theme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) is to improve the competitiveness of European industry and generate the knowledge needed to transform it from a resource-intensive to a knowledge-intensive industry – in a safe, ethical and efficient way. EU Member States have earmarked a total of EUR 3.5 billion for funding this theme over the duration of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

Public consultation

The Commission Recommendation and Council Conclusions suggested that both the recommendation and the CoC should be revised after two years. In response, the Commission launched a public consultation between 20 October 2009 and 3 January 2010 to receive new feedback from individuals and organisations involved or interested in N&N research in Europe, in particular researchers, policymakers, industry, media, and civil society organisations (CSOs).

Analysis of the feedback generated during the consultation is available here. PDF
Contact point: Philippe Galiay

* Read more:

Press release: PDF: DE, EN, FR
Recommendation: PDF: DE, EN, FR
Brochure (PDF 1.5MB)

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