Wyden Praises Nature Nanotechnology Article

Senator Says that 'Safe Handling of Nanotechnology' Article Offers a Much

Needed Framework for Considering Nanotechnology's Environmental, Health,

and Safety Implications

Nov 15, 2006, 00:00 ET from The Office United States Senator Ron Wyden

    WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- United States Senator Ron Wyden
 (D-OR) issued the following statement in response to the publication of
 "Safe Handling of Nanotechnology" in Nature, which sets forth a research
 framework for considering the environmental, health, and safety aspects of
     "What's great about this Nature article is that it provides a
 much-needed environmental, health, and safety research framework. Its
 suggested approach presents a solid foundation for developing a short-,
 mid-, and long-term research strategy.
     "The tools and research base that the article's authors propose are
 essential for evaluating nanomaterials risks and addressing these critical
 issues head on. I was also pleased to see that the article recognizes the
 need to develop strategies (e.g., applying green chemistry to the
 development of nanomaterials) to identify and produce safer nanomaterials
 as the need arises.
     "I urge the federal government to take a hard look at this important
 article because now is time to act; there is no time for delay. The nation
 has taken huge strides towards harnessing the promise of nanotechnology.
 But the nation has also come to a crossroads that could shape
 nanotechnology's future. The crossroads I am referring to revolves around
 nanotechnology and environmental, health, and safety issues.
     "At this point, most environmental, health, and safety aspects of
 nanotechnology mainly involve unanswered questions. The efforts made to
 answer these questions and how those answers are addressed by the federal
 government, industry, academic researchers, activists, and the public will
 have dramatic impact on the success -- or failure -- of this nascent
     "Tackle the environmental, health, and safety issues properly and
 America reaps nanotechnology's economic and social benefits for years to
 come. Mishandle or ignore these questions and public confidence in
 nanotechnology may disappear. So will the enormous opportunity that
 nanotechnology presents.
     "Already, elements of the public are concerned by perceived risks
 associated with nanotechnology. And so is business. Some companies are
 standing on the sidelines and refusing to pursue nanotechnology because of
 the uncertainty -- and perceived potential liability -- associated with the
 sector. Some investors are becoming less inclined to fund nanotechnology
 firms. At least one insurer has refused to provide coverage to nanotech
     "Despite the attention -- and concern -- of industry, academia, and the
 public, the federal government has failed to show strong leadership in
 setting the environmental, health, and safety research agenda.
 Understandably, the issue is complex -- nanotechnology is a cross-cutting
 discipline with products and processes being developed in every field
 imaginable. Multiple federal agencies with multiple priorities have
 oversight of the environmental, health, and safety elements of
 nanotechnology. But these are not excuses; if anything, the complexity of
 the task should serve to motivate everyone involved to proceed ahead in a
 thorough and thoughtful manner. It's time for the federal government to
 finally adopt an environmental, health, and safety research agenda like the
 one proposed in this article, and start answering the many questions that
     "I am certain that nanotechnology holds huge promise. In medicine. In
 energy. In computer processing. In so many areas. But unless environmental,
 health, and safety issues are addressed in a way that fosters public
 understanding and support for nanotechnology, that potential is in
 jeopardy. I, for one, am unwilling to let that happen.
     "As a US Senator interested and invested in the success and safety of
 nanotechnology, I will be watching closely in the coming weeks, months and
 years to ensure that the federal government, in cooperation with all
 interested parties, steps up and addresses these environmental, health, and
 safety issues head on."
     Senator Wyden was a co-author of 21st Century Nanotechnology Research &
 Development Act.
     CONTACT: Melissa Merz (Wyden), 202-224-1170

SOURCE The Office United States Senator Ron Wyden