Nano@Tech: Nanotechnology, Risks, and Regulatory Options with Richard Barke

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Abstract: The National Science Foundation estimated that revenues from nano-enabled products grew worldwide from about $340 billion in 2010 to $731 billion in 2012, and more than $1 trillion in 2013.  The impact of the nanotechnology revolution is undeniable, with vast potential benefits, from consumer products to industrial products, pharmaceutical and military applications, energy technologies, cosmetics, and so on.  But along with these benefits come potential risks. As the EPA wrote in 2016, “nanomaterials are very useful, but there is little research about how they affect human and ecosystem health.”  Uncertainties about health, safety, and environmental effects, and even about how to define and classify nanomaterials, have persisted.  It is certain that regulatory policies in the U.S. and internationally will attempt to address these risks and balance them with the benefits, but several decades of experience reveals that analogies to previous emerging technologies are difficult and regulators have been hesitant to make definitive decisions. In some ways, the regulatory regime that will emerge may be as innovative as the technology that it addresses.  In this talk I will examine some of the legally and politically inescapable procedural and substantive aspects of nanotechnology regulation, and identify some of the directions that American regulatory policy might move.

Bio: Dr. Richard Barke is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Policy. He received his BS in Physics from the Georgia Institute of Technology and his MA and PhD in Political Science from the University of Rochester. His recent research interests focus on the regulation of risk, the roles of politics within science, and of science within politics. Dr. Barke has written about topics such as the political behavior of scientific disciplines, the impact of university curricula on the organization and advancement of scientific knowledge, the politics of science budgeting in Congress, and how scientists translate scientific findings into policy recommendations. Recent works involve the decision making processes by which science and ethics are reconciled in the regulation of research, particularly research involving human subjects and in nanotechnology. Currently he is writing a book about obstacles to long-term policy making.


  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Christa Ernst
  • Created:12/05/2017
  • Modified By:Christa Ernst
  • Modified:03/05/2018