Archive for April, 2009

The Challenge of Regulating Nanotechnologies

Thursday, April 30th, 2009 by

Earlier this week the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies published a report on: “Oversight of Next Generation Nanotechnologies“.   The report makes the point that: “Oversight of new technologies in this century will occur in a context characterized by rapid scientific advancement, accelerated application of science and frequent product changes. The products will be technically complex, pose potential health and environmental problems and have an impact on many sectors of society simultaneously. They may also raise challenges to moral and ethical beliefs. Nanotechnology embodies all of these characteristics as well as particular ones that challenge conventional methods of risk assessment, standard setting and
oversight implementation.”

The very characteristics of nanotechnologies and many new technologies more generally have changed since the systems of regulation were established.   Therefore it is to be welcomed that this report takes a systems approach to the issues of regulation.  One positive outcome of this approach is the identification of the need for public participation on the choices society makes about new technologies.   Hopefully this could also include the need to balance market requirements with the needs of humanity.