Edited by Graeme A. Hodge, Diana M. Bowman and Andrew D. Maynard
Chapter 6: The Scientific Basis for Regulating Nanotechnologies
David Williams 6.1 INTRODUCTION The basis for this contribution to a book on the regulation of nanotechnologies is a period of personal experience at providing a scientific rationale and justification for a series of measures to be undertaken by a very important public body that had the responsibility for proposing regulations that would afford protection to the general public and, where necessary, susceptible individuals, in situations where new technologies were being introduced on a significant scale. That public body is the European Commission (EC). It is, effectively, the executive of the European Union (EU) which, alongside the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, is one of the three main institutions governing the EU. Its primary roles are to propose and enact legislation for the EU. Currently the EU comprises 27 countries, known as the Member States, so this responsibility is considerable. The EC operates through a number of different mechanisms. In the areas of public health and consumer safety, rigorous procedures are in place to ensure, as far as possible, the correct balance between permitting new technologies and practices that have the potential to improve the quality of life of individuals in the Member States and provide maximum safety associated with those technologies. Wherever situations arise in which new types of health risk arise with the introduction of different technologies, DG Sanco, the Directorate General for Health and Consumer Affairs, has available to it an independent Scientific Committee to advise on this balance of benefit and risk....
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