Issue Date: November 19, 2007
Federal oversight of the environmental, health, and safety (EHS) impacts of nanotechnology should be cognizant of the potential benefits and the uncertainties associated with this emerging technology. This statement is the underlying purpose of a set of principles for nanotech EHS oversight developed by a multiagency group led by the Office of Science & Technology Policy and the Council on Environmental Quality. The principles apply both to regulatory agencies that set policies to protect the public and to R&D agencies that provide oversight for research. They encourage regulations that will enable rather than hinder innovation. According to Andrew Maynard, chief science adviser at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the principles represent a top-down approach to regulation, which is counter to the government's own strategic-risk research that focuses on a bottom-up approach. "It is hard to see how innovative and responsive solutions to effective nanotechnology oversight will emerge within the constraints implied by these principles," he says.
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