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May 1, 2009

PEN Report on Oversight of Next Generation Nanotechnology Recommends New Federal Agency

Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 28, 2009, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) released a report entitled Oversight of Next Generation Nanotechnology, which calls for the creation of the Department of Environmental and Consumer Protection, which would oversee product regulation, pollution control and monitoring, and technology assessment. According to report author J. Clarence Davies, Ph.D., the agency would be primarily a scientific agency with a strong oversight component, in contrast to current federal agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which are primarily oversight bodies. Davies stated: “New thinking, new laws and new organizational forms are necessary.  Many of these changes will take a decade or more to accomplish, but there is an urgent need given the rapid pace of technological change to start thinking about them now.”