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February 28th, 2008
How should nanotechnology research and application be regulated, and what agency (if any) should do the regulating? George A. Kimbrell and Aatish Salvi continue their debate.
Governments must oversee nanotechnologies and nanomaterials, not industries. Proponents of nanotechnology argue that government oversight and the public disclosure of company safety data are not needed often with the following explanation: "Trust us. Why would anyone make an unsafe product?" Unfortunately, some corporations have a long history of knowingly manufacturing unsafe products; cigarettes and asbestos come to mind. Moreover, polls show that people overwhelmingly do not trust industry with the job of protecting their health; instead, they trust government regulators. And rightly so: A family's health and safety, not to mention the well-being of the environment, should not rest on a corporate cost-benefit analysis; it should be entrusted to those governmental bodies statutorily charged with protecting public health and safety.
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