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April 16th, 2008
The U.S. government needs to increase funding for research about the health, safety, and environmental effects of nanotechnology because much of the impact is still unknown, some lawmakers said Wednesday.
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Science and Technology Committee called for a huge increase in the budget for environmental, health, and safety (EHS) research in nanotechnology for 2009. President George Bush's 2009 budget increases the nanotech EHS budget by 30 percent, to $76.4 million, but committee Chairman Bart Gordon suggested EHS funding should be double that request.
Nanotech holds great potential, but there should be more research about the health and safety effects of the 600 nanotech products already on the market, said Gordon, a Tennessee Democrat. The U.S. needs to put more money into education and safety research so that the public doesn't reject nanotech in the same way that some people have rejected genetically altered food, he said.
"I want us to be able to create jobs in this country built around nanotechnology," he said during a committee hearing. "It concerns me that we're going to have a horror story with one out of 600 [products], and it could put a taint on the entire industry."
Bush's 2009 budget for the National Nanotechnology Initiative, which encompasses nanotech research at 13 government agencies, is $1.53 billion, up from $1.49 billion in fiscal year 2008. A proposal before the Science and Technology Committee would set aside 10 percent of that budget for EHS research, instead of the 5 percent in Bush's budget.
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