Why the elephant in the room appears to be more than a nano-sized challenge

Joel D'Silva, Diana Meagan Bowman


This Special Issue devoted to 'The legal regulation of nanotechnologies' draws together contributions from some of the leading commentators in their respective fields. The Special Issue canvasses some of the most pressing philosophical, ethical and regulatory questions currently being debated around the world in relation to nanotechnologies and more specifically nanomaterials.

At this relatively early stage of development, there is considerable scientific uncertainty, for example, about the potential human health and safety risks of some 'free' nanomaterials and their use. In addition to the potential risks associated with various products themselves, a number of commentators have also raised concerns about the potential occupational and environmental risks associated with the manufacture and disposal of certain classes of nano-based products. Looking beyond the scientific safety questions, commentators have also expressed concern about the potential reaction of consumers to the technology and the market realities therefore. Indeed, it is not a given that consumers will readily accept the use of nanomaterials in, for example, foods, even if they offer a 'superior' alternative to their conventional counterpart.

Regulation has a significant impact on the development and trajectory of new technologies. Depending on its scope, applicability and interpretation it will affect research and development, types of products produced, commercialisation and finally consumption of the technology (and its products). This Special issue incorporates fourteen papers covering various aspects and issues pertaining to the theme across a number of jurisdictions.

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