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Transboundary Regulation in the Case of Nanotechnologies: A Theoretical Framing
Volume 9, Issue 4

Sonia E. Rolland and Sarah Schools

While much as been written about the risks and uncertainties of nanotechnology products and industries using nanotechnologies, an equally important issue is the different risk sensitivities and tolerances of individual states and constituencies within states, resulting in divergent regulatory schemes. Risks and uncertainty are relevant for policy-making because they are embedded in particular societal contexts, which differ from state to state, from one regulatory agency to another, across various industries and across civil society. Reflecting these varying sensitivities to risk in the context of nanotechnologies, then, presents multi-level regulatory challenges domestically but also internationally. While no single global constraining framework, such as a treaty, has emerged to address those transnational regulatory challenges, for technical and practical reasons, a number of regulatory processes have surfaced, combining public and private initiatives, hard and soft law at the domestic, transnational and international levels. This article presents nanotech regulation globally as a regime and it asks whether this regime can respond to the challenges of risk, uncertainty and promoting public and private innovation.

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