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benefits of graphene: “In order for this market to mature, you absolutely

have to have agreed industry standards. The people who should be

setting those standards are the people that are involved in the industry

– those are the producers, the value added manufacture people who are

taking this raw material and then putting it into composites and

functionalising it, and the end users, who are going to ultimately be liable

to the general public if there are issues with pride. As these materials

become more pervasive, there will be more regulatory scrutiny, and so

we should be prepared for that.

“Especially the producers; this is your industry, you are investing your

valuable time and you are investing significant amounts of capital into

this, so get involved in developing the standards that are going to be

used in your industry. This is a big obstacle to get to commercialisation,

and it’s one that is up to us to settle.”

It is clear that if industry is going to be able to fully exploit the advantages

of graphene, it must come together to define the right standards, rules

and regulations that both benefit business and take account of any

negative health implications. It is up to industry to lead the debate on

this exciting nanomaterial.

“The next recommendation is the elimination of

nanomaterials, which I thought was quite

interesting … it is not in the interests of

anybody who is in this room, because here we

are talking about commercialisation and their

recommendation is don’t use it.

“And then engineering tools, which is clearly

using the right equipment to make sure you

don’t have exposures, and personal protective

equipment for your workers.”

GMO shadow

Barkan drew an analogy between the

development of graphene and genetically

modified organisms, and the potential difficulties

that could develop if industry does not lead the

debate. GMOs, he said, “are a tremendous

opportunity for human health – making better

products and better plants that can resist

disease and drought … what happened in

Europe, though, is that the debate was taken

away from industry.”

He commented how business had “invested

billions of dollars in GMOs” yet lost control of

the discussion, which was “hijacked by people

afraid of GMOs without having any

understanding of what they could or could not

do”. This, the executive director said, led to the

labelling of GMOs as ‘Franken foods’ and their

almost non-existence in Europe, with the

market and the industry essentially relocating

to the United States.

It is vital, argued Barkan, to avoid the same

situation for graphene and to therefore prevent

“undue fear about using nanomaterials”. He

added that it is important to show that these

products are safe and to avert an environment

that turns against you, where people say

‘nanomaterials are just too dangerous to handle’.

“If we have good standards, we have better

information to inform the regulators to make

sensible regulations. To me that makes sense,

so that is why they are connected,” the director

told delegates.

Come together

Barkan concluded his address by reiterating the

importance of bringing together the major

players to agree standards and to realise the full

B R OW S E

http://www.thegraphenecouncil.org http://www.terrapinn.com/graphene/

H O R I Z O N

2 0 2 0

www.horizon2020projects.com

H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L

I S S U E S E V E N

43

S P E C I A L F E AT U R E : M AT E R I A L S

Barkan commented

how industry had lost

control of the GM

crops debate in

Europe, therefore

leading to the market’s

essential relocation to

the USA

© mrjohncummings/Neil Palmer