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Posted: June 6, 2008

U.S. passes legislation to strengthen nanotechnology safety research

(Nanowerk News) Yesterday, June 5th, H.R. 5940, the National Nanotechnology Initiative Amendments Act of 2008 passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 407 to 6. H.R. 5940 reauthorizes and refines the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), notably strengthening the commitment to environmental and safety research.
“The promise of nanotechnology is enormous, but potential downsides need to be addressed from the beginning in a thorough, transparent process,” said Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). “The federal interagency nanotechnology research program has not yet put in place a well designed, adequately funded, and effectively executed research program focused on the environmental and safety aspects of nanotechnology. H.R. 5940 addresses this deficiency by requiring that a research plan, with detailed objectives and funding targets, be developed and quickly implemented.”
H.R. 5940 assigns responsibility to a senior White House official to ensure that a detailed implementation plan for Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) research is developed and executed – a plan that specifies both near-term and long term objectives, provides a timeline for achieving the near-term objectives, and identifies the funding, by objective and by agency, necessary to carry it out. The legislation also requires the plan to be responsive to recommendations from the NNI external advisory committee and requires the development of a publicly accessible database containing every EHS research project supported under the NNI.
“We need to protect the public health and allay any safety concerns,” said Gordon. “I believe H.R. 5940 will help ensure the safety of new products for the benefit of both the business community and the public generally.”
In addition to the emphasis on environmental and safety research, the bill requires the NNI to increase its emphasis on ways for moving basic research results out of the laboratory and into commercial products, materials, and devices. The bill also creates new nanotechnology education programs to attract secondary school students to science and technology studies and to help prepare the nanotechnology workforce of tomorrow.
The bill passed the House Science and Technology Committee on May 7th.
For more information, please visit the Committee’s website here: http://www.science.house.gov/default.aspx
Source: U.S. House of Representatives