Research Handbooks on the WTO series
Edited by Geert Van Calster and Denise Prévost
Chapter 20: Emerging technologies and the WTO: comparing biotechnology and nanotechnology regulations in the EU and the US
Technologies are developing at breath-taking pace. Computers have shrunk from the size of a room to fit into a mobile phone, we can recreate animals from a single cell and household appliances can clean themselves with the help of miniscule silver particles. Regulators continuously struggle to keep up with these developments. Not only do they have to ensure that the new technologies do not harm their populations and the environment, they also have to take into account the interests of their trading partners and their differing perceptions of risk and need for oversight, as well as obligations under multilateral trade rules that influence the development and implementation of domestic legislation. Tensions over trade in genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the evolving (though as yet less controversial) regulatory regime for nanotechnology products highlight some of the challenges in striking this balance. Indeed, comparisons between the two technology sectors are frequently made.
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