The 2007 United Nations Environment Program "GEO Year Book 2007" report was recently released, which explicitly calls for nanotechnology regulation on a global scale. The abstract to the Year Book contains this overview:
The emerging scientific and policy challenges of nanotechnology are examined from an environmental perspective. Nanotechnology will bring environmental benefits but it is vital that we adopt appropriate assessment and legislative process to address the unique challenges presented by nanomaterials and their life cycles.
The AP provides more background in a February 5th report from Nairobi, the site of this year’s Global Ministerial Environment Forum, where this report was unveiled. More from the report:
In its annual report of the global environment, the U.N.’s Environment Program said ”swift action” was needed by policy makers to properly evaluate the new science of nanotechnology.
Although nanotechnology could transform electronics, energy industries and medicine, more research is needed to identify environmental, health and socio-economic hazards, Achim Steiner, who heads UNEP, said in the 87-page report.
The UN is calling for cooperation between the nanotechnology industry and government, and also cooperation between developed nations and developing nations, in formulating a regulatory response to potential EHS nanomaterial concerns. On that note, the National Science Foundation’s proposed 2008 budget includes a $29 million request for a Program Component Area entitled "Societal Dimensions: Environmental Health & Safety (EHS)."