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 26: Conclusions: Triggers, Gaps, Risks and Trust

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


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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