Thursday, January 10, 2008

Stakeholders Support Development Of Federal Nanotechnology Strategy

Jan 8: A diverse group of nanotechnology stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations, large and small companies, and research organizations, applauded the inclusion in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 of a measure that will aid in the development and implementation of a comprehensive federal nanotechnology environmental, health, and safety (EHS) research strategy. The legislation, signed by President Bush on December 26, 2007, expresses Congress’ intent that the U.S. EPA contract with the National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology (BEST) to “develop and monitor implementation of a comprehensive, prioritized research roadmap for all Federal agencies on environmental, health and safety issues for nanotechnology.”

The diverse group that urged the Congressional measure is mindful of the significant efforts of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, but strongly believes that a comprehensive, independently developed research roadmap is urgently needed to ensure that sufficient federal resources are directed to address the pressing need for better information on the EHS implications of nanotechnology. Under the provisions included in the legislation, Congress urges EPA “to contract or enter into a cooperative agreement with the National Academy of Sciences’ Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology within 90 days of enactment” (by March 21, 2008) to develop and monitor implementation of the research strategy.

A release from the group indicates, "BEST’s groundbreaking work in devising and overseeing EPA’s research on the health effects of airborne particulate matter serves as a useful model for the work BEST is expected to undertake for nanotechnology EHS research. We anticipate that BEST will build upon its experience while taking into account ongoing related efforts, to develop and oversee execution of an integrated strategy to guide federal EHS research needed to support the safe development and use of engineered nanoscale materials and technologies."

Some of the groups backing the initiative include: American Chemistry Council; DuPont; Environmental Defense; NanoBusiness Alliance; The Dow Chemical Company; and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Many of the organizations have been critical of national efforts to monitor and regulate the developing nanotechnology industry. Environmental Defense and DuPont announced their Nano Risk Framework last February. Environmental Defense has called U.S. EPA nanotechnology plan "too little, too late" [
See WIMS 8/2/07]. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) accuses the U.S. government of gross failure to use its authority to protect citizens from the potentially dangerous effects of nano-scale chemistry [See WIMS 5/15/07].

In a related matter, the Food and Drug Law Institute (FDLI) and Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies will hold the 1st Annual Conference on Nanotechnology Law, Regulation and Policy, February 28-29, 2008, at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel, in Washington, DC. The conference will bring together top officials at the agencies responsible for the regulation of nanotechnology products -- including the Food and Drug Administration, EPA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Department of Agriculture -- to discuss their plans for managing and monitoring these products. Food and drug industry representatives also will find out what’s happening internationally on nanotech regulation, how venture capitalists look at the future of nanotechnology and what the leading corporations, scientific laboratories and academic centers are focusing on in this dynamic field.

Nanotechnology was incorporated into more than $50 billion in manufactured goods last year, according to Lux Research. By 2014, the market will grow to $2.6 trillion. By 2011, over $15 billion in nano-enabled drugs and therapeutics will be sold -- up from more than $3 billion in 2006. And industry experts project that nanotechnology will be incorporated into $20 billion worth of consumer food products by 2010. Yet, despite this rapid commercialization, no nano-specific regulation exists anywhere in the world. Most regulatory agencies remain in an information-gathering mode -- lacking the legal and scientific tools, information and resources they need to adequately oversee expediential nanotechnology market growth.

Access a release from American Chemistry Council including the complete list of group members and link to additional information (
click here). Access the Federal National Nanotechnology Initiative website for additional information (click here). Access WIMS-EcoBizPort Nanotechnology links for additional information (click here). Access various articles on Nanotechnology on the eNewsUSA Blog (click here). Access the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 (click here). Access complete information on the FDLI conference (click here). Access additional information from the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (click here). [*Toxics]