Monday, December 15, 2008

Review of the Federal Strategy for Nanotechnology-Related Environmental, Health and Safety Research

The report by the National Research Council calls for a revamped national strategic plan that will minimize potential risks and permit innovation to flourish and society to reap nanotechnology’s benefits.

The risk research plan developed under the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) has been widely criticized by consumer groups, chemical industry representatives and congressional lawmakers from both major parties as lacking a clear vision and the resources necessary to improve understanding of the potential risks posed by nanomaterials.

This report calls for an improved mechanism for conducting research. As many as 18 federal agencies — including the Defense Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration — are under the umbrella of the NNI’s environment and health implications working group, making coordinating research a challenging task. The principal recommendation is to replace the current bottom-up collection of individual agency research agendas and budgets with a top-down, highly focused and fully-funded strategy that addresses the risk research priorities of a rapidly commercializing new technology.

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