Table of Contents

International Handbook on Regulating Nanotechnologies

International Handbook on Regulating Nanotechnologies

Elgar original reference

Edited by Graeme A. Hodge, Diana M. Bowman and Andrew D. Maynard

As scientists and technologists discover how to engineer matter at the nanoscale in increasingly sophisticated ways, conventional approaches to ensuring safe use are being brought into question. Nanotechnologies are challenging traditional regulatory regimes; but they are also prompting new thinking on developing and using emerging technologies safely. In this Handbook, leading international authors from industry, government, non-governmental organisations and academia examine the complex and often controversial regulatory challenges presented by nanotechnologies. Across several disciplinary boundaries, they explore how the future regulatory landscape may evolve. From the Europe Union to the United States, workplaces to personal products, and statutory instruments through to softer approaches, it is clear that considerable vigilance will be needed in governing these powerful and novel technologies. To succeed, society will need new thinking, new partnerships and new mechanisms to balance the benefits of these technologies against their possible downsides. Anything less will prompt cries of illegitimacy and potentially compromise a promising new realm of technology innovation.

Chapter 1: Introduction: The Regulatory Challenges for Nanotechnologies

Graeme A. Hodge, Diana M. Bowman and Andrew D. Maynard

Subjects: innovation and technology, technology and ict


Graeme A. Hodge, Diana M. Bowman and Andrew D. Maynard 1.1 INTRODUCTION The past two decades have seen much debate about nanotechnologies. We have also been busy contemplating the regulatory implications of such new scientific frontiers. Indeed, we appear to have made real progress in these regulatory discussions as conversations have become progressively more professionalized, more careful and more rational. Or so some people assume. Yet underneath this veneer remains a real paradox. Despite its ubiquity and the undoubted importance of nanotechnology over the coming decades, the ‘nanotechnology phenomenon’ is itself an enigma. Its definition, meaning and historical origins1 continue to be the subject of contest, so that the degree to which it is really a ‘new’ scientific frontier requiring fresh thinking remains unclear. Indeed, amid calls for renewed ‘upstream’ policy dialogue, greater public engagement and stronger regulation, we are still debating the degree to which nanotechnologies are new, or are merely a re-badging exercise. And amid calls for governments to step in and guard against the inherent risks of new technologies, we are still debating the degree to which such responsibility should be borne by industry, government and the community. Moreover, in times of increased global economic uncertainty, the point at which the optimum balance is achieved in progressing forward and maximizing economic growth and sustainability while showing sufficient precaution remains as elusive as ever. So, are we on the verge of a revolutionary nanotechnologies platform? Or does the coming ‘nano-age’ simply amount to a cluster of exciting ideas...