International Handbook on Regulating Nanotechnologies
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International Handbook on Regulating Nanotechnologies

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.
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Chapter 6: The Scientific Basis for Regulating Nanotechnologies

David Williams


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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