- We are on our way!
- Lead Registrant Workshop welcomes new and old lead registrants to Helsinki to share best practice
- Get your data sharing activities ready and be aware of your rights and obligations
- Executive Director Dancet in Rome: Supporting SMEs at a national level
- REACH conference in France: Setting up actions to ease the way for the 2013 milestone
- Shared learnings on Exposure Scenarios
- Regulatory definition of nanomaterials: Bringing clarity to the regulator and the registrants
- ECHA publishes a report on the experiences of successful REACH registrants
- Industry feedback received for the QSAR Toolbox
- ECHA to start a graduate scheme in the field of EU chemical policies
- ECHA Board adopts budget and revised work plan for 2012
- Member State Competent Authority Directors discussed the work load for 2012-2015
- ECHA organises the Meeting of the Heads of EU Agencies in Helsinki
- Evaluation process: Safeguarding the scientific quality of registration information
- ECHA's corporate identity: Towards a more open, accessible and efficient ECHA
- Stakeholders contribute to setting future priorities
- IUPAC aspires to work with industry beyond the International Year of Chemistry
- Professor Hélène Langevin-Joliot: "People have both the right and the duty to seek information and learn about chemicals"
- Kaihsu Tai from the Young Leaders Team: "Cross-sector collaboration and public awareness are the way forward"
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Article related to: People and perspectives
IUPAC aspires to work with industry beyond the International Year of Chemistry
As the International Year of Chemistry 2011 drew to a close, ECHA Newsletter spoke to its most important ambassadors: the grand-daughter of Marie Skłodowska Curie, Professor Hélène Langevin-Joliot, and Professor Nicole Moreau, the President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) - the organisation which launched this initiative.
Professor Moreau, the International Year of Chemistry 2011 celebrates the 100th anniversary of the initial idea for IUPAC. If we go back to the roots, what gave IUPAC the incentive to start its activities?
IUPAC was born in full agreement with industry, which wanted, as did the academics, to have a unique language. This continues to be valid today, and IUPAC facilitates the advancement of research and communication in chemical sciences through the tools that it provides for international standardisation.
IUPAC (jointly with IUPAP - the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics), examines the claims for new elements. This year, element 112 has been recognised and IUPAC agreed to name it after Copernicus. Before the end of 2011, two other new elements will be recognised and named.
IUPAC's role in the nomenclature has been growing, because now we have new compounds and new polymers. All these need names which are to be given by IUPAC. This is very well known by chemists and by industry. Even in schools children are taught how to describe molecules according to the IUPAC names. This is the first and the most important role of IUPAC, but that is not all.
As a non-governmental scientific organisation, IUPAC is totally independent, truly international and unbiased. This has enabled IUPAC to launch the idea for the International Year of Chemistry and promote a change in the perception of the role of chemistry in our daily lives.
Why do we need to change the image of chemistry?
Chemistry has a dual nature. It is both a fundamental and an applied science; it is both exact and experimental. This is very specific to chemistry and I think this is one of the reasons why chemistry is not so well understood. People do not know very well how to deal with it. As they find chemistry everywhere, they think that chemistry is responsible for everything. Instead of saying "Yes, it is thanks to chemistry that I have a phone, I have food, I have clear water", they think it is because of chemistry that we have pollution, climate change or, that we have less insects, for example. People tend to focus on the bad aspects of chemistry. In IUPAC, instead of saying "Chemistry is everywhere", we have to explain what chemistry can do to solve the problems that our society is facing at the moment.
On the other hand, chemistry needs to make some progress in responding to the demands of the people and politicians within our society, to have less pollution. We need to use cleaner processes, less solvents, less energy. This is a major task for chemistry professionals today - to ensure cleaner and more useful products, to address the challenges of our time in a sustainable way.
| Professor Nicole Moreau says that the International Year of Chemistry was a good opportunity for IUPAC and industry to exchange views. Copyright: Nicole Moreau. |
Do you discuss these development issues in IUPAC?
Yes, we do. IUPAC is a platform for scientific discussion. We can organise congresses, propose education and develop projects. If someone asks for scientists working in a specific field, we have databases and we can help. We do not have laboratories, but we have the information. We do not do the work in IUPAC, but we can facilitate it and promote it. We address global issues as a scientific, international, non-governmental body.
Is IUPAC involved in the regulatory process?
I think that we should do more here. As I am a European, whenever it comes to regulation, I speak, of course, about REACH. However, this is not enough. IUPAC could and should have a better role and do more in regulation, for instance, by providing expertise. This is, of course, difficult. In the countries where the chemical societies are well organised, they do not act in the name of IUPAC, they speak on their own behalf. That is why I fear that IUPAC would not be well known by the public, journalists and politicians even after the International Year of Chemistry. It will, however, be better known by the industry and this is an achievement in itself.
How do you cooperate with industry?
We have a special committee for industry. Its members are working on projects that are dealing with good laboratory practices for industry. In some developing countries, there are no such protocols. They are interested in learning about that by discussing with other scientists. IUPAC is a good platform for them to learn about some rules, ISO standards and good practice.
Companies can also become members of IUPAC. This could be of interest to them, and we are happy to receive enquiries from industry regarding our membership. We have written white books about endocrine disrupters, about chlorine and about topics that influence industry. We can provide companies with scientific advice, independent from political and economic interests. We do it scientifically, we do it independently and we do it because it is important.
I think that this International Year of Chemistry was a good opportunity for IUPAC and industry to meet and to know what one can do for the other. When IUPAC organised the launch ceremony for the International Year of Chemistry, many companies approached us to get involved and offered sponsorship. This was a win-win process. We had resources to finance the event, to give the opportunity to young people to travel and take part in it. Companies were pleased to be more visible, to take part in the discussion and promote what they are doing and if the academics were critical, challenging and demanding, companies had the opportunity to answer.
I hope that we can sustain this collaboration with industry beyond 2011.This is one of our projects and aims after the International Year of Chemistry – boosting IUPAC, increasing cooperation among countries, between chemistry and other disciplines, between academic organisations and industry.
Interview by Virginia Mercouri
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