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Posted: February 16, 2009
FramingNano mapping study on regulation and governance of nanotechnology released
(Nanowerk News) The Innovation Society as a part of the FramingNano project consortium have announced the release of the first FramingNano milestone report. The new mapping study approaches the nano risk governance issue by presenting a range of nanotechnology applications, summarising the current knowledge about risks and concerns and by giving a comprehensive overview on regulatory approaches, initiatives and stakeholders involved worldwide. In Switzerland, FramingNano was preceded by the stakeholder dialogue platform project “Nano-Regulation”.
The level of attention directed towards safety, health and environmental effects (SHE) as well as ethical, legal and societal issues (ELSI) deriving from nanotechnology and its applications, has increased considerably in recent years. Addressing these issues properly and responsibly will be of paramount importance for the success of “nano” as a technology. The fact that nanotechnology is still at an early stage of its development makes it possible to tackle the relevant questions, comprehensively and globally, from the beginning, thereby helping to avoid some of the mistakes made in the context of other technologies in the past.
FramingNano is a 2-year FP7-funded project established with the objective of defining a governance framework aimed at supporting a responsible development of NS&T. This will be achieved by establishing an open and international multi-stakeholder dialogue amongst the scientific, institutional, industrial, non-governmental, and broader public communities, in order to foster the development of a shared frame of knowledge, objectives and actions to define constructive and practicable regulatory solutions, and facilitating a responsible development of NS&T. The final outcome of the FramingNano project will be a proposal for a Governance Plan highlighting the needs, actions and recommendations for a safe development of NS&T at EU level and beyond.
According to the report,
France, Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, UK and some Scandinavian countries are the most active countries in Europe in addressing the issues related to nanoregulation. The report also describes the various voluntary measures currently in progress or already completed.
Nanoregulation must be regarded as a dynamic issue which must adapt to the evolution of the scientific knowledge, applications and public attitude. A continuous updating must be part of the governance of nanotechnology.
Public acceptance and public engagement are core aspects of the debate. While in the USA and some other countries, public participation is seen, in the first place, as an instrument to ensure public acceptance (or to avoid negative risk perception), European vision seems more focused on fostering the broader concept of “public engagement” in the development and governance of nanotechnologies as a way of democratic legitimisation.
As a general conclusion, most governments and regulatory authorities consider existing regulatory frameworks, such as REACH in Europe and TSCA in USA, appropriate in principle to deal with many of the nanomaterials currently in use. However, the many divergent positions regarding different stakeholder groups are also pointed out in the mapping study.