Trends in Global Nanotechnology Regulation: The Public-Private Interplay

Reut Snir · 17 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. 107

Abstract

Over the last decade, concerns regarding potential exposure to nanomaterials gave rise to substantial new regulation intended to ensure safe development of nanotechnology applications. This Article examines the resultant regulatory system through empirical analysis of trends and patterns in global development of nanotechnology regulatory initiatives. It argues that rather than a government-driven process, it was private actors who set the regulatory wheels in motion.This Article shows that under conditions of scientific uncertainty,governments lacking technical and scientific knowledge to support risk-based regulation often leave a regulatory void. Consequently,businesses apply self-risk-management strategies to fill the gap,leading the way for public regulation to follow. Thus, it is the continual interplay between public and private regulations that shapes the current landscape and drives the regulatory innovation. This Article further shows that, while formal partnerships are rare, an informal and self-organized collaboration is occurring through reciprocal signals of intent and tacit understanding of the internal and external factors that drive both public and private regulations. It concludes that, due to some unique aspects of nanotechnology, private regulation has (and is likely to continue to have) a prominent role in regulating nanotechnologies.