16 April 2008 19:18 [Source: ICIS news]
Testifying before the House Committee on Science and Technology, BASF toxicology manager Raymond David cautioned that a “high quality, comprehensive and prioritised federal research strategy focusing on nanotechnology environment, health and safety is still missing”.
Speaking on behalf of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), David urged prompt congressional passage of legislation before the committee to create “a central federal research oversight function to address specific research questions and provide the capability to utilize all federal resources” in guiding US nanotech research and development (R&D).
The House is considering a measure titled “The National Nanotechnology Initiative Amendments Act of 2008” that would strengthen federal and private sector focus on nanotech manufacturing research, technology transfer and commercialisation of research results while ensuring environmental, health and safety controls.
The bill, which has not yet been formally introduced, is meant to accelerate work already being coordinated by the seven-year-old National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), a largely voluntary programme that has been criticised for its slow pace.
In earlier congressional testimony, commercial and academic officials have expressed concern that delay in establishing a federal regulatory platform for nanotech development is needlessly delaying research and the potential for wide scale industrial investment in nanomaterials.
Researchers and chemical industry leaders have said they are reluctant to make major investments in time, effort or capital until they are certain what areas of nanomaterials development and production will be barred or restricted by one or another federal authority.
David urged that the legislation should focus on establishing risk assessments, promote interdisciplinary research partnerships, support better understanding of nanomaterials’ basic properties and create validated standard protocols so that research advances can be uniformly measured.
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