Former EPA Official Says New Oversight and Resources Needed for Nanotechnology

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- The Project on Emerging
 Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars today
 released a new report by one of the country's foremost authorities on
 environmental research and policy, which examines the strengths and weaknesses
 of the current regulatory framework for nanotechnology and calls for a new
 approach to nanotechnology oversight.
     Managing the Effects of Nanotechnology, authored by J. Clarence (Terry)
 Davies, former assistant administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection
 Agency (EPA) during the George H. W. Bush Administration, argues that better
 and more aggressive oversight and new resources are needed to manage the
 potential adverse effects of nanotechnology and promote its continued
 development.
     "It is the right time to come up with the right regulatory framework for
 nanotechnology -- a framework that encourages initiative and innovation, while
 also protecting the public and the environment," Davies said. "The ideas
 presented in this report challenge business and government to work together to
 nurture and encourage nanotechnology and to anticipate and address its adverse
 effects."
     "Nanotechnology holds tremendous potential -- for improvements in health
 care, the production of clean water and energy, and continued advances in our
 IT infrastructure," said William K. Reilly, former EPA Administrator,
 commenting on the report. "But nanotechnology can only flourish if industry
 and government are committed to identifying and managing the possible risks to
 workers, consumers, and the environment. Davies' analysis of the federal
 regulatory system and recommendations should spark a necessary dialogue --
 among business, government and citizen groups -- about how to move forward as
 nanotechnology develops."
     "Reaching consensus on nanotechnology regulation that encourages economic
 innovation and environmental stewardship will not be easy," Davies
 acknowledges, "but it is a challenge that we cannot ignore."
     Dr. Davies argues that some current regulatory approaches may work for
 nanotechnology applications. "The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the
 authority it needs to review and regulate nanotechnology applications in the
 areas of drugs and biomedical devices," Davies said.  "But most of the
 existing applicable programs are seriously flawed, lack resources, and require
 new thinking and funding."
     The report analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of existing laws that
 apply to nanotechnology and outlines provisions that a new law might contain.
     "Nanotechnology is still in its infancy, presenting a clear opportunity
 for us to 'get it right' from the start," said David Rejeski, director of the
 Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies. The Project is an initiative of the
 Wilson Center and The Pew Charitable Trusts.
     "As we continue to learn the value and benefits that nanotechnology
 presents," noted Rejeski, "it will be important for us to gain the commitment
 from industry and government to successfully position nanotechnology as the
 next big economic driver. If nanotechnology is to succeed, there needs to be a
 dialogue around the proactive approach Davies suggests. Government, business
 and citizen groups need to exchange views and discuss options to assure the
 American public that as nanotechnology matures, any adverse health and
 environmental effects will be identified and prevented or controlled."
     "There also needs to be more in-depth public policy analysis that is
 informed by an understanding of the risks posed by nanotechnologies and how
 products are moving from laboratories to factories, and into the marketplace.
 The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies is committed to helping facilitate
 the necessary dialogue around nanotechnology and to providing sound policy
 choices," according to Rejeski.
     The market opportunity for nanotechnology is substantial. The National
 Science Foundation predicts that the global marketplace for goods and services
 using nanotechnologies will grow to $1 trillion by 2015. The U.S. invests
 approximately $3 billion annually in nanotechnology research and development,
 which accounts for approximately one-third of the total public and private
 sector investments worldwide.
     Nanotechnology is the ability to measure, see, manipulate and manufacture
 things usually between 1 and 100 nanometers. A nanometer is one billionth of a
 meter; a human hair is roughly 100,000 nanometers wide.
     "Dr. Davies has offered all who are interested in the benefits and risks
 of nanotechnology good, thoughtful questions to ponder and a series of options
 to consider," said Jim O'Hara, director of policy initiatives and the Health
 and Human Services program at The Pew Charitable Trusts. "Such options and
 ensuing policy dialogue are essential to ensure that society manages the
 potential adverse effects of nanotechnology and reaps its tremendous
 benefits."
     The Center formally will release the report at a briefing today from 10:00
 - 11:00 a.m. EST at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars,
 located at 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C., 5th floor
 conference room. The briefing will be webcast live at
 http://www.wilsoncenter.org. Terry Davies' report, Managing the Effects of
 Nanotechnology, is available online at http://www.nanotechproject.org.
     J. Clarence (Terry) Davies is a senior advisor at the Project on Emerging
 Nanotechnologies and senior research fellow at Resources for the Future. He is
 considered one of the foremost authorities on environmental research and
 policy. He co-authored the plan that created the U.S. Environmental Protection
 Agency (EPA) and later served as the EPA's assistant administrator for Policy,
 Planning and Evaluation. As a senior staff member of the Council on
 Environmental Quality, Davies authored the original version of what became the
 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
     The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies was launched in 2005 by the
 Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and The Pew Charitable
 Trusts. It is a partnership dedicated to helping business, governments, and
 the public anticipate and manage the possible health and environmental
 implications of nanotechnology.
 
                         STATEMENT BY WILLIAM K. REILLY
                 Founding Partner, Aqua International Partners
           Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (1989-1993)
                                January 11, 2006
 
     J. Clarence (Terry) Davies's report, Managing the Effects of
 Nanotechnology, probes the frontier of environmental policy.  Davies's
 analysis of the federal regulatory system provides an excellent roadmap that
 will help policymakers identify potential oversight gaps and develop better
 ways to manage nanotechnology's impacts, both now and in the future.  His
 recommendations should spark a necessary dialogue -- among business,
 government, and citizen groups -- about how to move forward as nanotechnology
 develops over the coming years.
     A similar rational and thoughtful guide to the public policy issues
 presented by biotechnology would possibly have helped us better manage that
 innovation.  Davies' report can help us get this right.
     Nanotechnology holds tremendous potential -- for improvements in health
 care, the production of clean water and energy, and for continued advances in
 our IT infrastructure.  It may be the single most important advance of our
 age.  But nanotechnology can only flourish if industry and government are
 committed to identifying and managing any possible risks to workers,
 consumers, and the environment. Government oversight needs to be done in a way
 that is transparent, efficient, and predictable, both for large and small
 companies as well as for those who invest in these businesses.  Davies's
 report presents the first systematic analysis into how such a balance can be
 achieved.
 
     CONTACT:  Julia Moore of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for
 Scholars, +1-202-691-4025, julia.moore@wilsoncenter.org; or Debra Masters,
 +1-202-326-1821, debra.masters@edelman.com, for the Woodrow Wilson
 International Center for Scholars.
 
 

SOURCE Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

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