Nanotechnology Development Suffers From Lack of Risk Research Plan, Inadequate Funding & Leadership

Embargoed 10:00 A.M.

Sep 21, 2006, 01:00 ET from Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

    WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- The successful development of
 nanotechnology -- with its potential to help provide new medical
 treatments, sustainable energy, and 21st century jobs -- is being
 jeopardized by the lack of a clear federal strategy for examining possible
 environmental, health and safety risks and by inadequate funding for this
     Today, before a U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science
 hearing entitled Research on Environmental and Safety Impacts of
 Nanotechnology: What are the Federal Agencies Doing?, Project on Emerging
 Nanotechnologies Chief Science Advisor Dr. Andrew Maynard testified that
 "Nanotechnology is no longer a scientific curiosity. It is in the
 workplace, the environment and the home. But if people are to realize
 nanotechnology's benefits, the federal government needs a master plan for
 identifying and reducing potential risks. This plan should include a
 top-down risk research strategy, sufficient funding to do the job, and the
 mechanisms to ensure that resources are used effectively."
     In his testimony, Maynard proposes that "The federal government needs
 to invest a minimum of $100 million over two years in targeted risk
 research in order to lay a strong, science-based foundation for safe
 nanotechnology." According to Maynard's analysis, despite investing more
 than $1 billion annually on nanotechnology research, U.S. government
 spending on highly relevant nanotechnology risk research is only $11
 million per year.
     Maynard's testimony, which is available online at, draws heavily from his new report,
 Nanotechnology: A Research Strategy for Addressing Risk. His report has
 been widely praised by science professionals and policymakers, including
 Britain's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in
 London, England. In a statement, DEFRA described Maynard's report as "a
 very helpful contribution to international discussions on research needs in
 this [nanotechnology risk] area."
     DEFRA will launch a Voluntary Reporting Scheme for engineered nanoscale
 materials on Friday, September 22. Alongside government scientific
 research, the purpose of this program is to gather data to better
 understand the properties and characteristics of different engineered
 nanoscale materials and to allow for a more informed debate about the
 nature of appropriate controls. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
 (EPA) is considering a similar program.
     About Nanotechnology
     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. More
 than $32 billion in products containing nano-materials were sold globally
 last year. But 2014, Lux Research projects that $2.6 trillion in
 manufactured goods will incorporate nanotechnology.
     Despite rapid commercialization, the majority of the American public
 has heard little or nothing about nanotechnology. A new poll, released this
 week by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, shows that while public
 awareness of nanotechnology is increasing, fully 69% of Americans have
 heard little or nothing about the technology. Poll results are online at:
     The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies is an initiative launched by
 the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and The Pew Charitable
 Trusts in 2005. It is dedicated to helping business, government and the
 public anticipate and manage possible health and environmental implications
 of nanotechnology. For more information about the project, log on to
     CONTACT: Sharon McCarter of Woodrow Wilson International Center for
 Scholars, +1-202-691-4016,; or Jenny
 Zawila, +1-202-336-7962,, for Woodrow Wilson
 International Center for Scholars.

SOURCE Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars