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The Current State of Australia’s Evolving Approach to Regulating Nanotechnologies
Volume 9, Issue 4

Diana M. Bowman and Michael G. Bennett

Safety concerns continue to mare the development, commercialization and acceptance of nanomaterials and nano-objects. To safeguard human and environmental health, and the economic potential of nanotechnologies, a diversity of hard and soft responses have been implemented by governments and regulators over the past five years. This article focuses on the evolving policy and regulatory landscape for nanotechnologies in Australia. Since the independent review examining the adequacy of relevant federal health and safety regulatory regimes in 2006-07 for nanotechnologies, the technology has continued to receive attention from the public, private and community sectors. This article traces these developments and debates. It notes that while critics continue to voice concern over the approach adopted by the federal government-especially in light of the recent legislative reforms in the European Union-the regulatory status quo has been challenged. Preference for softer regulatory approaches is evident, as too is a focus on scientific principles rather than contested definitions. We speculate that this light-touch approach to regulation shall continue for the foreseeable future.

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