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Edited by Graeme A. Hodge, Diana M. Bowman and Andrew D. Maynard
Chapter 26: Conclusions: Triggers, Gaps, Risks and Trust
Andrew D. Maynard, Diana M. Bowman and Graeme A. Hodge 26.1 INTRODUCTION Nanotechnologies are something of an enigma. On the one hand, it is hard to deny that the idea of working with matter at the nanoscale has stimulated significant new cross-cutting research and technology innovation. On the other hand, the essence of this emerging technology – that which determines its identity – becomes strangely elusive when specific questions on impact, harm and regulation are asked. Yet despite this, the debate over understanding and managing the potential health and environmental impacts of nanotechnologies has become an integral part of the technology’s development – so much so that this Handbook addresses a very real desire for greater information and clarity on regulating nanotechnologies among stakeholders. Questions over the regulatory path for nanotechnologies are confounded by different framesets within which challenges and options are discussed, varying interpretations of what ‘nanotechnology’ means, and confusion over the underlying science and its implications to risk and risk management (as discussed by, for example, Nordmann (Chapter 2), Williams (Chapter 6) and Chaudhry, Bouwmeester and Hertel (Chapter 7). The result has been the nanotech equivalent of the Tower of Babel – a lot of talk, but little constructive dialogue. This is at the heart of our ‘wicked’ public policy problem outlined in the Introduction – a problem that many stakeholders are interested in, but which remains complex, ill-defined, highly contested or perhaps even imaginary. Clearly, if progress is to be made in ensuring the safety and success of nanotechnology-enabled products and processes,...
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