By Moeller IP Advisors
Nanotechnology is a growing field with an incredible potential for several sectors. In healthcare, the development of nano-enhanced pharmaceuticals could prove incredibly powerful for treatment of widespread diseases like cancer. Electronics have also embraced nanotechnologies, for developing more powerful computer processors and increased storage limits.
Together with Brazil, Mexico has been the first Latin American country to develop a strategy in this nascent field. Since the early 2000s, Mexico has recognized the enormous potential of nanotechnologies by enacting the Special Program of Science and Technology (PECYTI) 2001-2006, part of the National Development Plan. The Program focused on the need to develop a national policy for promoting nanotechnology and on the creation of a research network in Mexico.
In 2002, the Mexican Program for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology was drafted by seven prominent public institutions and four foreign expert advisors.
In 2009, the National Nanotechnology and Nanoscience Network was created and funded with $700,000 USD, gathering together more than 100 researchers in the field. Two national nanotechnologies laboratories have been built, one in Chihuahua, at the Advanced Materials Research Center and one in San Luis Potosí, at the Potosí Institute of Scientific and Technological Research.
The effect on the research development has been notable: in the Latin American region, Mexico is second only to Brazil for the number of publications in nanotechnology.
Moreover, several companies have started to operate. It has been estimated that in Mexico more than 150 products have been developed using nanotechnology. Gresmex designed and patented a sanitizer able to destroy H1N1 virus; Sanki developed a food supplement made with nano-biotechnology. The Monterrey-based Sigma Alimientos commercializes a nano-packaging for storing food that otherwise deteriorates quickly in the presence of oxygen, while Nanosoluciones sells nano-enhanced water-repellent coatings.
Proximity with the United States also enabled cooperation in the field, like the Silicon Border Development Science Park, started in 2006.
Nanotechnology regulation Mexico
Regulation of the nanotechnology sector in Mexico has close ties to the United States’ one. In 2010, the U.S.-Mexico High-Level Regulatory Cooperation Council was created and a year later the Council released a memo from the U.S. Executive Office of the President called “Policy Principles for the U.S. Decision-Making Concerning Regulation and Oversight of Applications of Nanotechnology and Nanomaterials”.
Although this Memo was addressed to the agencies in the United States, Mexico also started to develop a set of Guidelines that substantially mirrored the content of the Memo. At the end of 2012, the Guidelines for nanotechnology regulations to encourage competitiveness and protect the environment, health and consumer safety were enacted.
Although the MEMO and the Guidelines have some differences, they both focus on the necessity of enacting a specific regulation that would enable the nanotechnology sector to thrive while evaluating the health and environmental risks that nanotechnologies entail. In this regard, however, it must be noted that neither the Memo nor the Guidelines make reference to the precautionary principle, which is included in the 2005 Ley de Bioseguridad de Organismos Genéticamente Modificados (LBOGM).