A Small Matter Of Regulation: An International Review Of Nanotechnology Regulation

by Diana M. Bowman & Graeme A. Hodge

8 Colum. Sci. & Tech. L. Rev. 1 (2007) (Published January 29, 2007)


Rapid technological advances and commercialisation within the emerging field of nanotechnology will challenge traditional regulatory regimes. Yet while the promising nanotechnology phenomenon has attracted extensive scientific and commercial interest, there has been only limited debate on the associated regulatory and legal aspects. This paper examines the current domestic and international regulatory frameworks into which nanotechnology is now being thrust. Using the context of the world’s leading public sector investors, the United States and Japan, as well as Australia and the United Kingdom, the effectiveness of these regulatory frameworks is investigated. The paper argues that current national frameworks relevant for nanotechnology contain visible gaps. Furthermore, these regulatory fissures are magnified at the international level. As an example, the paper examines the role of the World Trade Organisation’s Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement and its applicability as one important regulatory mechanism in the commercialisation of nanotechnology. This paper concludes that if we can now learn from past regulatory successes and failures, nanotechnology offers a unique opportunity to re-evaluate the efficacy of current regulatory regimes, thereby circumventing some of the primary regulatory difficulties experienced with earlier technological advances.

About the Authors

Diana M. Bowman: LLB, BSc. PhD Candidate and Research Fellow in the Faculty of Law, Monash University.

Graeme A. Hodge: BEng, MEngSc, MBA, PhD. Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Centre for Regulatory Studies, Monash University.

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