Helsinki Chemicals Forum to Focus on Internationalization of Reach
5:32 AM MDT | March 14, 2012 | By HANNU VORNAMO
by Hannu Vornamo, Secretary General, Helsinki Chemicals Forum
The international community has been looking to enhance chemicals safety on a continuous basis for a long while now. Legislation has advanced in various regions – but to a varying degree. Europe has high hopes for the internationalization of the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (Reach) program, but it seems that for now Reach will remain a European level phenomenon. The need for international interaction has been clear in the field for a while now, and the Helsinki Chemicals Forum has offered an excellent forum for such discussions. The fourth HCF, taking place May 24–25, will again attract a group of international participants to Helsinki.
The themes for this year’s Forum are focused on the problems as seen by key international chemical safety players, or bottlenecks in the development of legislation. Our first panel aims at faster convergence of global regulation systems. The multiple workload created by complex, competing and overlapping sets of regulations – that benefit no one – is frustrating for both the chemicals authorities and industry throughout the world. The chemicals trade is highly global and it would be in the best interest of all parties concerned – including consumer protection – if the convergence of legislation in various parts of the world, and market areas, was accelerated.
Communicating on chemicals safety is highly challenging for all parties concerned. Our second panel focuses on the problems in communicating with the general public on chemicals – including enhancing openness and making the information more understandable. Panelists’ expertise covers the entire field including businesses, authorities, the media, consumers and NGOs. The Forum also hosts a separate debate on the substitution of chemicals for the business world and ChemSec, a leading NGO.
As the Reach regulation was prepared in Europe, concerns were voiced on what would happen to new innovations. This issue has now been studied and our third panel focuses on drivers of new innovations in the chemicals industry – including new technology. Europe is not losing its competitive edge and its ability to innovate.
Our fourth panel responds to the criticism and challenges related to minimising animal testing, with a focus on examining the impacts of long-term exposure to chemicals. Alternative test methods have already been developed and are being studied constantly. However, they must meet certain criteria in order to be officially accepted as guidelines in legislation..
This year’s keynote speeches will be about Reach. Mr Tajani, v.p. of the European Commission, will give his opinion about the commission’s 2012 Reach Review, to be released in the following week. This is the first review of the functionality of Reach.
Professor Reinhard Quick from Brussels will deliver the second keynote speech. As an expert in the field of trade policy, he has seen how Reach has combined with World Trade Organization regulations. We all remember that one of the key counterarguments to Reach by certain non-EU countries was that it is supposed to conflict with WTO regulations.
Looking forward to meeting you in Helsinki!
Hannu Vornamo, Secretary General, Helsinki Chemicals Forum