Survey reveals regulatory agencies viewed as unprepared for nanotechnology

Dec 19, 2013

Three stakeholder groups agree that regulators are not adequately prepared to manage the risks posed by nanotechnology, according to a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One. In a survey of nano-scientists and engineers, nano-environmental health and safety scientists, and regulators, researchers at the UCSB Center for Nanotechnology in Society (CNS) and at the University of British Columbia found that those who perceive the risks posed by nanotechnology as "novel" are more likely to believe that regulators are unprepared. Representatives of regulatory bodies themselves felt most strongly that this was the case. "The people responsible for regulation are the most skeptical about their ability to regulate," said CNS Director and co-author Barbara Herr Harthorn.

"The message is essentially," said first author Christian Beaudrie of the Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia, "the more that risks are seen as new, the less trust survey respondents have in regulatory mechanisms. That is, regulators don't have the tools to do the job adequately."

The authors also believe that when respondents suggested that more stakeholder groups need to share the responsibility of preparing for the potential consequences of nanotechnologies, this indicated a greater "perceived magnitude or complexity of the risk management challenge." Therefore, they assert, not only do regulators feel unprepared, they need input from "a wide range of experts along the nanomaterial life cycle." These include laboratory scientists, businesses, health and environmental groups (NGOs), and government agencies.

Explore further: Gold nanorods target cancer cells

More information: The title of the paper is, "Expert Views on Regulatory Preparedness for Managing the Risks of Nanotechnologies." It was published on November 11 and can be read here: www.plosone.org/article/info%3… journal.pone.0080250

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Public attitudes to nanotechnology: Lessons for regulators

Sep 21, 2009

New technologies may change our lives for the better, but sometimes they have risks. Communicating those benefits and risks to the public, and developing regulations to deal with them, can be difficult -- particularly if ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.