House Passes Nanotechnology Safety Bill

By Michael Stebbins, originally published at Scientists and Engineers for America Action Fund

The House just passed the National Nanotechnology Initiative Amendments Act of 2008 by a vote of 407 to 6. H.R. 5940 reauthorizes and refines the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), notably strengthening the commitment to environmental and safety research. This seems particularly important considering the recent news on the potential danger of carbon nanotubes.

According to House Science and Technology Committee chairman, Bart Gordon (D-TN) “The federal interagency nanotechnology research program has not yet put in place a well designed, adequately funded, and effectively executed research program focused on the environmental and safety aspects of nanotechnology. H.R. 5940 addresses this deficiency by requiring that a research plan, with detailed objectives and funding targets, be developed and quickly implemented.”

The bill requires the White House “to ensure that a detailed implementation plan for Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) research is developed and executed.” It also requires the plan to be responsive to recommendations from the NNI external advisory committee and requires the development of a publicly accessible database containing every EHS research project supported under the NNI.

“We need to protect the public health and allay any safety concerns,” said Gordon. “I believe H.R. 5940 will help ensure the safety of new products for the benefit of both the business community and the public generally.”

Finally, the bill also creates new nanotechnology education programs to attract secondary school students to science, now a hallmark of just about every science bill that Congress introduces.

For more information, please visit the Committee’s website.

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