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A Framework Convention for Nanotechnology?

August 2008

Citation: 38 ELR 10507

Issue: 8

Author: Kenneth W. Abbott, Gary E. Marchant, Douglas J. Sylvester

Editors' Summary: Profs. Kenneth Abbott, Gary Marchant, and Douglas Sylvester argue that regulation of nanotechnology should be flexible and adaptive; innovative; international; and official. In order to meet these requirements, the authors call for negotiation of an international framework convention on nanotechnology as soon as possible. In response, Lynn Bergeson appreciates the inherent logic and appeal of their proposal, but questions whether the timing is right for the necessary parties to undertake the concerted effort needed to create such a convention. Similarly, David Rejeski applauds the idea, but wonders whether competitive pressures and government inaction leave any room for negotiation of such a convention or whether dramatic developments will be necessary to prompt action. On the other hand, Brent Blackwelder believes that the risks posed by nanotechnology are so great that there is no time to negotiate a convention and that a moratorium on nanotechnology should precede any other regulatory efforts.

Kenneth Abbott is Professor of Law, Willard H. Pedrick Distinguished Research Scholar, and a Faculty Fellow of the Center for the Study of Law, Science, and Technology at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University (ASU); he is also Professor of Global Studies at ASU. Gary Marchant is the Lincoln Professor of Emerging Technologies, Law, and Ethics and Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Law, Science, and Technology in the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at ASU; he is also Professor of Life Sciences at ASU. Doug Sylvester is a Professor of Law and Faculty Fellow of the Center for the Study of Law, Science, and Technology at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. A version of this Article was originally published at 36 ELR 10931 (Dec. 2006), and is reprinted with permission.

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