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Nanotechnology risk framework: your input requested

Environmental Defense and DuPont are pleased to announce the public release of a DRAFT version of their Nano Risk Framework — a framework for the responsible development, production, use and disposal of nanoscale materials. They’d appreciate your feedback so that they can make this framework as effective, practical, and useful for as wide an audience as possible. Please provide your comments by Friday, March 30th, 2007:

The intent of the framework is to define a systematic and disciplined process that can be used to identify, manage and reduce potential environmental, health and safety risks of nano-scale materials across all lifecycle stages to help ensure that nanotechnology’s benefits are maximized while the potential risks are effectively assessed and managed. [Emphasis added]

Those familiar with Foresight’s longtime mission of maximizing nanotech’s benefits and minimizing its risks will be pleased to see these memes spreading together so effectively. We see this theme frequently now, and it’s gratifying — as is seeing the term ‘open source’ spreading far beyond software.

From the Framework document:

Given the team members’ areas of expertise, the Framework now concentrates on environmental, health, and safety risks. As a result, a number of other issues that some observers have raised about nanotechnology — social equity, national security, and personal privacy, for example — are not addressed. While we recognize these omissions, we also note that it might be possible for some users to incorporate such elements into their own adaptations of the Framework.

Regular readers of Nanodot know that we at Foresight focus more on these broader issues raised by nanotech — e.g., the interactions between security, freedom, and privacy — and these are not addressed in this Framework. However, the wording of these kinds of documents tend to propagate into later, broader policy documents, so we encourage everyone to dig in and assist on this one. —Christine

3 Responses to “Nanotechnology risk framework: your input requested”

  1. anon Says:

    Benefits also have to be WEIGHED against risks. Of course we want risks minimized. But say that new forms of nanopollution could definitively and reliably be predicted to unavoidably KILL 10,000 people a year. If cheap (free) water filters produced by the same technology base could definitively and reliably be predicted to save 5,000,000 children/yr from dying from diarrhea, it’s still a good deal. Especially considering risks are also counterweighted by reducing other forms of pollution and their risks (living in Long Beach, CA is reckoned to be like smoking 2 packs a day; industrial centers in China are worse–the sky is a rare sight.) We ought not forgo best technology possible because everyone can’t agree that it’s a PERFECT technology in every last respect.

  2. Nanodot: Nanotechnology News and Discussion » Blog Archive » Environmental groups dispute about nanotechnology Says:

    [...] We mentioned earlier a request for comment on a proposed Nano Risk Framework for approaching nanotechnology materials safety organized by Environmental Defense and DuPont. Now a different group of organizations has come out against that framework. Their statement is titled “Civil Society-Labor Coalition Rejects Fundamentally Flawed DuPont-ED Proposed Framework“. An excerpt: We reject outright the proposed voluntary framework as fundamentally flawed. We strongly object to any process in which broad public participation in government oversight of nanotech policy is usurped by industry and its allies. We made the decision not to engage in this process out of well-grounded concerns that our participation – even our skeptical participation – would be used to legitimize the proposed framework as a starting point or ending point for discussing nanotechnology policy, oversight and risk analysis. The history of other voluntary regulation proposals is bleak; voluntary regulations have often been used to delay or weaken rigorous regulation and should be seen as a tactic to delay needed regulation and forestall public involvement. [...]

  3. Says:

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