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Posted: Jun 02, 2015
Nanotechnology legal and regulatory frameworks in South-East Asia
(Nanowerk News) Legal researcher Mohammad Ershadul Karim at the University of Malaya is looking into the legalities of nanotechnology research in Asia. Karim has found that there are significant challenges to developing a proper legal framework as our understanding of the exact dangers of nanoparticles on human health and the environment is limited.
For example, in laboratory testing, there is evidence to suggest that carbon nanotubes can damage lung tissue and cause scarring, but the ultimate and exact long term dangers of these nanomaterials on human health and the environment are yet to be confirmed. As a result, some governments are already imposing restrictions. Denmark’s Environmental Protection Agency, for example, has banned the use of nanoenhanced dirt-resistant floor sprays.
Although legislation exists on chemicals, pesticides, food and water in most South-East Asian countries, there is no specific and comprehensive regulation on nanotechnology so far.
On the positive side, Singapore is leading the way in terms of research publications and patents. Meanwhile, Thailand has set up a Nanosafety Information Center and introduced a “nano-mark” system for paint, textile and household products to provide safety information for consumers.
Most South-East Asian countries now have general policies on nanotechnology at the national level. For example, in 2009 the Philippines launched a 10-year strategy to create a viable nanotechnology industry. However, in a paper published in the journal Technological Forecasting & Social Change, Karim argues that the adequacy of the region’s nano-safety laws will require continued assessment as research develops.
While Karim’s research is ongoing, he anticipates that Malaysia, as a country that inherited its legal system from English common law, would do well to have a regulatory framework in line with other common law countries such as the UK, Australia and New Zealand.