n Malawi Law Journal - Questioning the adequacy of the regulatory regime for nanotechnology in Malawi

Volume 7, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1996-7675


Nanotechnology exploits unique physico-chemical properties that emerge at the nanoscale to improve the properties of materials and products. Despite the great promise they herald, there are concerns over risks posed by nanotechnology, mainly as regarding worker and consumer safety and the environment. The aim of this article is to examine the adequacy of the legislation, policies and regulations governing nanomaterials. The Consumer Protection Act places a duty on the government to protect consumers and requires traders of consumer goods to publish safety instructions and warnings. However, the Malawian chemical regulatory regime does not adequately address potential risks from nanotechnology although it has some provisions that can be used to manage nanotechnology. This article argues that Malawi should introduce a specific policy on nanotechnology. This may be achieved incrementally by implementing a similar approach as that of the European Union by adapting the existing laws so that they are capable of addressing the problems raised by nanomaterials. Crucial in adequately regulating these materials is the need for the Pharmacy and Poisons Board and the Pesticide Control Board to set up criteria that may be used to analyze nanoproducts. Labeling is already a requirement for prepacked foods, medicines and pesticides. There is a need to request that the word 'nano' should appear on the labels of nanomaterials and products such as nanomedicines. Furthermore, it is the duty of every employer to ensure the safety, health and welfare of all its employees, including conducting risk assessment and management of nanotechnology used at the workplace. As a precaution, the Ministries responsible for the environment and occupational health should consider nanomaterials as hazardous; while the Malawi Bureau of Standards should regulate nanomaterials in consumer products such as sunscreens.

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