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Nanotechnology “Down Under”: Getting on Top of Regulatory Matters
Volume 4, Issue 2

Diana M. Bowman, Monash University
Graeme A. Hodge, Monash University

Australian state and federal governments have historically been at the forefront of developing innovative international policy and regulatory solutions to emerging technologies. Assisted reproductive technologies and genetically modified organisms are two prominent examples here. The question of how best to regulate new technologies is thus not in itself a new phenomenon. But nanotechnologies are ubiquitous, and the nano-phenomenon promises to challenge traditional regulatory frontiers. This article examines the current Australian policy and regulatory agendas for nanotechnology and considers current government responses to ethical, social and regulatory issues posed by nanotechnology to date. Activities such as the recent Parliamentary Inquiry into workplace exposure to toxic dust and the National Nanotechnology Strategy Taskforce Report for options on a National Nanotechnology Strategy are discussed. These activities are also placed within the comparative context of nano-based policy and regulatory activities within the United States and the United Kingdom, and it is acknowledged that within all three jurisdictions, governments continue to act as both the advocate of the technology and the guardian of the public interest. The article concludes that the Australian government should adopt a more proactive approach to governing nanotechnology, it and identifies a number of processes by which this may be undertaken.

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