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PROSPECT Expert Team calls for more Vigilance during Nanomaterial Safety Tests

Experts from the PROSPECT (Ecotoxicology Test Protocols for Representative Nanomaterials in Support of the OECD Sponsorship Programme) project have posted detailed comments on the recently published and publicly discussed research paper on Soybean susceptibility to manufactured nanomaterials with evidence for food quality and soil fertility interruption by Priester et al..

The PROSPECT public-private-partnership (PPP) is dedicated to supporting the safe and responsible exploitation of nanomaterials, and is conducting in particular characterisation and ecotoxicological investigation of commercial nano-ZnO and nano-CeO2. Led by the Nanotechnology Industries Association (NIA), PROSPECT is a 50:50 PPP between specific NIA Member-Companies, several university laboratories, leading in the research of nanoparticle detection and exoctoxicology, and the UK Government (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Technology Strategy Board, and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)).

The independent experts collaborating under PROSPECT challenge the study 'with regard to the nanomaterial-specific conclusions drawn from tests that are conducted according to methodologies that do not allow the distinction between a nanomaterial and a macroscale material,' and call for 'more frequent and detailed characterisation throughout the investigated test systems, specifically with regard to the assumed presence of the originally administered nanomaterials'.

The PROSPECT experts find the lack of positive controls in the Priester et al. study particularly problematic and 'suggest that the study performed does not support the researchers' conclusion that 'high production MNMs [Manufactured Nanomaterials] are apt to change soybean agriculture' because no positive controls were used in the study rendering it impossible to reach conclusions that the effects observed were derived from the tested nanomaterials.

Many of the comments phrased by the PROSPECT expert team have also been highlighted by the International Zinc Association (IZA), which submitted comments to the Priester et al. paper earlier this month.

"The PROSPECT project has been widely praised as an exemplary contribution to the OECD's international work on nanomaterials safety testing," highlights Dr Steffi Friedrichs, NIA Director General. 'The exchange and discussion between expert researchers is essential to our work at the OECD, because the researchers only can decide if an accepted test guideline needs to be changed, in order to be fully applicable to nanomaterials,' she adds.


Follow this link to download the PROSPECT comments.

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