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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 20: Voluntary Measures in Nanotechnology Risk Governance: The Difficulty of Holding the Wolf by the Ears

Christoph Meili and Markus Widmer

Subjects: innovation and technology, technology and ict


Christoph Meili and Markus Widmer1 20.1 MANDATORY GOES VOLUNTARY – AND VICE VERSA The regulation of manufactured nanomaterials has been a matter of discussion among government representatives, scientists, environmental and consumer advocates and politicians since the beginning of the commercial rise of consumer products containing or claiming to contain manufactured nanomaterials. However, manufactured nanomaterials, until very recently, were not required to be explicitly labelled or registered, and due to the current lack of reliable data about their release into the environment, governments and authorities worldwide have manifested difficulties in estimating prevalent types, amounts and uses of nanomaterials on the market. This means that it has also been difficult to derive estimations of potential exposure to manufactured nanomaterials to both humans and the environment. Further, a conclusive database does not exist which lists all products containing manufactured nanomaterials in a given country or of a given sector of application. In the absence of official statistical data on the use of nanomaterials in the industry and in consumer products, the best approach to gain such overview to date is probably to visit the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies’ (PEN) (2009) web-based database on consumer products, which is based on continuous worldwide internet research. As of August 2009, more than 1000 products were included in the inventory. Much the same as with the current knowledge on information regarding nanomaterials in trade, in the early phase of technology development, regulators and others are often unable to base potential regulatory decisions on an accredited state of science...

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