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The Emerging Governance Landscape of Nanotechnology

By csep - Posted on 01 August 2012

TitleThe Emerging Governance Landscape of Nanotechnology
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsRip, Arie, and Kearnes Matthew
Tertiary AuthorsGammel, Stefan, Losch Andreas, and Nordmann Alfred
Book TitleJenseits von Regulierung: Zum politischen Umgang mit der Nanotechnologie
PublisherAkademische Verlagsgesellschaft
Place PublishedBerlin
Publication LanguageEnglish/German
ISSN Number9783898380881
KeywordsNanotechnology Policy and Regulation

Over the last five years an international policy debate has emerged concerning the appropriate
mechanisms for the governance and regulation of advances in nanotechnology. The terms of this
debate parallel the classic dilemma in the regulation of emerging technologies – how to regulate
in a way that enhances the innovative potential of the field and yet is sensitive to emerging risks
to the environment or human health. Such debates about nanotechnology are at the core of policy
innovations which together constitute what we term here the “emerging governance landscape of
nanotechnology”. In this emerging policy debate initial concern has been raised about the possible eco-toxicity of nanomaterials, together with the broader socio-economic and ethical dimensions of a broad range of possible nanotechnologies. More recently regulatory attention has begun to consider the sufficiency of current regulatory frameworks given the novelty of these materials and their increasing use in a number of consumer products. Initially some NGOs and environmental groups called for mandatory moratoria “on the use of synthetic nanoparticles in the lab
and in any new commercial products” (ETC Group 2003, 10) and “on the release of nanoparticles
to the environment” (Greenpeace UK 2003). Equally, the internationally recognised review of
nanotechnology, conducted by the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineers (2004), suggested that “the present regulatory frameworks for protecting humans and the environment are
sufficiently broad to encompass nanotechnologies and that a separate regulator or regulatory
framework is unnecessary” (p. 76) whilst also recommending that “all relevant regulatory bodies
consider whether existing regulations are appropriate to protect humans and the environment
from the hazards [of nanotechnology], and publish their review and details of how they will address any regulatory gaps” (p. 77). Accordingly, as discussed below, a number of ‘regulatory reviews’ have recently been commissioned and published internationally, that examine the sufficiency of existing regulatory frameworks and possible regulatory gaps.