You figure once people realized the dangers of nanotechnology that the government would quickly organize into well-funded research teams to methodically determine their health risks. Andrew Maynard, chief science advisor for the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (phew!) astutely points out that this is simply not happening. Unlike most whiners, luckily, Maynard has a few suggestions up his nano-fabricated sleeve in his study, Nanotechnology: A Research Strategy for Addressing Risk. An excerpt from the press release:
According to Maynard’s analysis, as little as $11 million of the more than one billion dollars the U.S. government annually invests in nanotechnology research and development is devoted to highly relevant research into what is safe and what is not. In addition to inadequate funding, the current federal nanotechnology risk research effort lacks a clear strategy and leadership.
To fill these gaps, Maynard argues that the federal government needs an overarching strategy and comprehensive set of research priorities. Initially, these would be aimed at identifying and measuring nanomaterials exposure and environmental release, evaluating nanomaterials toxicity, controlling the release of and exposure to engineered nanomaterials, and developing “best practices” for working safely with nanomaterials, and eventually at building capacity in predictive toxicology.
…Maynard estimates that oversight and EHS research agencies need a minimum budget of $50 million per year over the next two years to devote to highly relevant, targeted nanotechnology risk-based research, if critical knowledge gaps are to be addressed. This amount is in addition to a complementary investment by federal agencies and departments participating in the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) on basic and applications-focused research that has the potential to help further understanding of nanotechnology risk and to aid in the development of improved research tools.
“With over $32 billion worth of products incorporating nanotechnology sold in 2005, the question of whether nanotechnology products and applications are safe is one that is not going away,” according to Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies Director David Rejeski. The Project is a joint initiative of the Woodrow Wilson Center and The Pew Charitable Trusts.
The government should also be worried about nanobots self-replicating and taking over the world… Hey wait, what was that noise…. ahhh! They’re here! Tell the preside…. *end transmission*