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Unwise Nanotechnology Regulation

Monday, December 11, 2006

Neil Lane's statement is compelling:

"In my view, given what's at stake, this situation is unacceptable. I fear that nanotechnology may be heading for a fall. A major environmental, medical or safety problem -- real or bogus -- with a product or application that's labeled 'nanotechnology' -- whether it actually is nanotechnology or not -- could dampen public confidence and financial investment in nanotechnology's future, and could even lead to unwise regulation. We should not let this happen," stated Dr. Lane.

As stated by NSF, Nanotechnology development will occur in these stages:

1st Generation: Passive nanostructures

2nd Generation: Active nanostructures
3rd Generation: Systems of nanosystems
4th Generation: Molecular nanosystems

Each generation of nanotechnology will bring different effects and entails different risks. First generation Nanotech will carry environmental risks. The question is always about nanotoxicity. It will therefore require (i) sufficient testing methods and (ii) development of (iii) pre-market testing for health and environmental impact, (iv) life cycle assessment (v) methods for reducing exposure.

Coping method: Reform and adaptation of environmental and health laws

Second and third generation nanotech carries a different risk in the form of system instabilities: "your biosensors is malfunction", "the nanodynamo isn't working", "how come my drug is directly excreted out of body"?

Coping method: Consumer law oriented. Reform on product liability/service liability rules.

The last generation of nanotechnology -- molecular manufacturing -- will be the most complicated and bring enermous affect. First generation oriented legislations will be absolutely obsolete. Some second generation laws can probably inspire the fourth generation nanotechnology regulation, but gaps are unavoidable. CRN is the only organisation that focuses specifically on fourth generation nanotechnologies. All of these risks must be dealt from now on as even early studies on the fourth generation nanotechnology may not be sufficient to mitigate the risk.

Possible coping method: (i) Informational law oriented, major overhaul on information
management laws. (ii) Application of legal futurism studies

(Many Thanks to: Mike Treder/CRN)