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May 31, 2017

CIELAP Releases Discussion Paper on a Nanotechnology Policy Framework

Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 30, 2007, the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy (CIELAP) released a document entitled Discussion Paper on a Policy Framework for Nanotechnology, which builds on policy issues discussed at a March 16, 2007, workshop. CIELAP states that it supports a goal statement and context for nanotechnology policy that is centered on an explicit recognition and endorsement of sustainable development.  According to CIELAP, the policy challenges for nanotechnology are enormous, and currently are dominated by a lack of scientific information and basic policy tools, including definitions and metrology; a legal and regulatory framework; and structures and resources for public engagement.  CIELAP notes that, despite these gaps, however, many parallels with other issues and institutional arrangements exist, and could be adapted for nanotechnology.  Due to nanotechnology’s extraordinarily rapid commercialization and development, speed and a strong sense of urgency are needed by government for a responsible Canadian approach to the creation of policy for this area.

The following are twelve key elements that CIELAP believes must be addressed in any Canadian policy framework for nanotechnology:

(1)        Basic societal goals;

(2)        Public education and engagement;

(3)        An inventory of activities and information sources;

(4)        Lead agencies;

(5)        Technical issues such as terminology and metrology;

(6)        Regulatory approach, including science, risk assessment, and stakeholder involvement;

(7)        Labeling and consumer protection;

(8)        Liability and intellectual property regimes;

(9)        Science and research support;

(10)      Commercialization and social and economic benefits;

(11)      Training; and

(12)      Security concerns.

CIELAP’s perspective on each of these twelve topics is presented in the discussion.