, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 1345-1371
Date: 01 Feb 2011

Recommendations for oversight of nanobiotechnology: dynamic oversight for complex and convergent technology

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Abstract

Federal oversight of nanobiotechnology in the U.S. has been fragmented and incremental. The prevailing approach has been to use existing laws and other administrative mechanisms for oversight. However, this “stay-the-course” approach will be inadequate for such a complex and convergent technology and may indeed undermine its promise. The technology demands a new, more dynamic approach to oversight. The authors are proposing a new oversight framework with three essential features: (a) the oversight trajectory needs to be able to move dynamically between “soft” and “hard” approaches as information and nano-products evolve; (b) it needs to integrate inputs from all stakeholders, with strong public engagement in decision-making to assure adequate analysis and transparency; and (c) it should include an overarching coordinating entity to assure strong inter-agency coordination and communication that can meet the challenge posed by the convergent nature of nanobiotechnology. The proposed framework arises from a detailed case analysis of several key oversight regimes relevant to nanobiotechnology and is informed by inputs from experts in academia, industry, NGOs, and government.

The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.