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Posted: May 14, 2009

International approaches to the regulatory governance of nanotechnology

(Nanowerk News) The Regulatory Governance Initiative (RGI) at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada has recently produced a report entitled: "International Approaches to the Regulatory Governance of Nanotechnology".
Authored by Jennifer Pelley and Marc Saner, this report investigates the question: “How have Canada and other jurisdictions reacted to the recent emergence of nanotechnology-based products in the marketplace (and what is the current state of affairs)?” Our survey focuses on five key jurisdictions: the United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK), the European Union (EU), Australia, and Canada.
The perspective applied is that of regulatory governance, that is to say, the process whereby governments, industry and civil society make decisions about how to regulate (or otherwise influence the course of) nanotechnology, determine whom they involve, and how they render account. Important questions from the perspective of regulatory governance are:
  • Which key event or events triggered debate, stakeholder consultations or policy development and how did jurisdictions involve the public and stakeholders?
  • How have countries dealt with policy options? For example, have they swiftly moved to the development of regulations or did they carefully consider or use other policy instruments? How have jurisdictions addressed the issue of regulatory impact?
  • How have the various jurisdictions addressed the conundrum that evidence-based regulatory action should be based on safety data but that such safety data is hard to obtain in the absence of established regulations?
  • For each jurisdiction, we provide descriptions of the policy, regulatory and stewardship approaches undertaken to date in response to the emergence of nanotechnology onto the marketplace. Where known, we comment on the effectiveness of approaches utilized to date. We also discuss the strategies adopted in each jurisdiction to consult with stakeholders and also we outline key events and key players in the ongoing nanotechnology public policy debate. Where possible, we have taken care to include up-to-date information in our descriptions (up to March 2009) in order to provide the reader with an understanding of the current state of regulation in the five jurisdictions.
    Finally, we provide a brief overview of international-level activities ongoing by member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) relating to manufactured nanomaterials. The report ends with a comparison of regulatory governance approaches across jurisdictions and an analysis of the best practices that may be deduced from experiences to date.
    Source: Carleton University