Improved governance needed to realize nanotech's benefits

April 22, 2008

WASHINGTON - Without an improved governance structure, the benefits of nanotechnology may be difficult to fully realize because the public will not trust the cutting-edge technology, says David Rejeski, director of the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN). Rejeski testifies on Thursday, April 24, before the Senate subcommittee on technology and innovation.

"Public trust is the 'dark horse' in nanotechnology's future," states Rejeski in his testimony. "If government and industry do not work to build public confidence in nanotechnology, consumers may reach for the 'No-Nano' label in the future and investors will put their money elsewhere. Public perceptions about risks--real and perceived--can have large economic impacts. For example, the European Union's ban on genetically modified foods, driven largely by public concerns, cost American farmers an estimated $300 million annually in lost sales and much more in products that never made it to the marketplace."

Congressional lawmakers are currently discussing amendments to and reauthorization of the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research & Development Act, which helps sets the roadmap for the annual $1.5 billion federal spending on nanotechnology research that is vital to ensuring the technology's success.

What: Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Innovation hearing "National Nanotechnology Initiative: Charting the Course for Reauthorization"

When: April 24, 2008, 2:30 p.m.

Where: Russell Senate Office Building Room 253, Washington, DC

Who: David Rejeski directs the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies. For the past eight years, he has also been the Director of the Foresight and Governance Project at the Woodrow Wilson Center. He has held various positions at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the White House Office of Science and Technology (OSTP), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He sits on the advisory boards of a number of organizations, including EPA's Science Advisory Board. He has graduate degrees in public administration and environmental design from Harvard and Yale.
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About Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is the ability to measure, see, manipulate and manufacture things usually between 1 and 100 nanometers. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter; a human hair is roughly 100,000 nanometers wide. By 2014, Lux Research projects that $2.6 trillion in global manufactured goods will incorporate nanotechnology, or about 15 percent of total global output.

The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (www.nanotechproject.org) is an initiative launched by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and The Pew Charitable Trusts in 2005. It is dedicated to helping business, government and the public anticipate and manage possible health and environmental implications of nanotechnology.

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars/Science and Technology Innovation Program

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