Congressional Research Service Prepares “Policy Primer” on Nanotechnology
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) prepared a June 28, 2016, report, Nanotechnology: A Policy Primer. The report provides an overview of federal research and development (R&D) in nanotechnology, U.S. competitiveness in the field, environmental, health, and safety (EHS) concerns, nanomanufacturing, and public understanding of and attitudes toward nanotechnology.
According to the report, while more than 60 nations established similar programs after the launch of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), “it appears that several have moved away from centralized, coordinated nanotechnology-focused programs (e.g., the United Kingdom, Japan, Russia), some in favor of market- or application-oriented topic areas (e.g., health care technologies).” Using the criteria of R&D expenditures and non-financial outputs such as scientific papers or patents, the U.S. “appears to be the overall global leader in nanotechnology, though some believe the U.S. lead may not be as large as it was for previous emerging technologies.”
The report states that in recent years, China and the European Union (EU) Member States have surpassed the U.S. in the publication of nanotechnology papers. The report notes that there is general agreement that more research on EHS implications is needed to protect the public and the environment, assess and manage risks, and create a regulatory environment that “fosters prudent investment in nanotechnology-related innovation.”
Nanomanufacturing may require the development of new technologies, tools, instruments, measurement science, and standards, while public understanding and attitudes may also affect the environment for R&D, regulation, and market acceptance of products incorporating nanotechnology.