The Christian Science Monitor dedicated its editorial yesterday to the issue of nanotechnology safety, and endorsed the proposal set forth in November’s Nature by fourteen scholars to discuss what lead author, Professor Andrew Maynard, termed the five "grand challenges" of nanotechnology safety.

Citing a Lux Research study, the CSM editorial indicated that by 2014, manufacturers will sell $2.6 trillion dollars’ worth of products that use nanotechnology.   After praising EPA’s decision to regulate "nanosilver," a decision that we have reported on at length here, CSM endorsed the Maynard proposal:

They include developing ways to detect nanomaterials in the air and water, learning how the shape of nanomaterials affects their toxicity, creating accurate models for predicting how nanomaterials act in the human body and the environment, and finding ways to engineer nanomaterials so that they are safe by design.

Both the chairman and ranking minority member of the House Science Committee have endorsed the paper and urged the White House and federal agencies to put together a plan to fund the scientists’ recommendations in the fiscal 2008 budget.

The need to act is urgent. Otherwise the enormous benefits of nanotech risk falling victim to safety issues that could – and should – have been confronted already.