Nanotechnology Project


Thinking Big About Things Small

Monday March 14, 2007 • 10:00 – 11:00 AM

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Woodrow Wilson Center • 6th Floor Board Room

New Report Looks Beyond Specific Statutes at Effective Oversight System

Nanotechnology—the so-called “science of the small”—is raising some big questions about the adequacy of the current federal oversight system. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is grappling with understanding how major laws, like the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), apply to nanotechnology. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is evaluating the effectiveness of the agency’s regulatory approaches and authorities to meet the potential unique challenges presented by the use of nanomaterials, and the agency expects to issue its findings in July 2007.

A new report by former EPA official Mark Greenwood, Thinking Big About Things Small: Creating an Effective Oversight System for Nanotechnology, urges policymakers to focus more attention on how core assumptions about risk assessment and risk management that underlie existing health and environmental regulations will translate from the macro world to the nano world. It also emphasizes that how the government ultimately oversees nanotechnology will have major impacts on business strategies, intellectual property, and the evolving structure of the industry. It argues that these issues should be discussed now, in the early stages of commercialization, rather than later.

A panel of speakers will examine the report’s conclusions at a program organized by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies.