These pages describe the Government's broad policy objectives on regulation, public engagement and research to underpin the responsible development of nanotechnologies and how this agenda is being taken forward. The policy developed from recommendations set out in the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering (RS/RAEng) report: 'Nanoscience and nanotechnologies: opportunities and uncertainties', which considered the possible health, social, ethical, safety and environmental questions that could be raised by nanotechnologies.
The RS/RAEng report was published on 29 July 2004 and the Government published its response on 25 February 2005. The Nanotechnology Issues Dialogue Group is co-ordinating the activities described in the Government response. Its sub-group, the Nanotechnology Research Coordination Group, chaired by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), is responsible for developing a cross-Government research programme into the potential human health and environmental risks and overseeing the programme of public dialogue and social research. The first Government research report was published in November 2005.
Defra launched a Voluntary Reporting Scheme for engineered nanoscale materials on 22 September 2006.
On 21 December 2006 DTI published a report "An Overview of the Framework of Current Regulation Affecting the Development and Marketing of Nanomaterials", produced by the ESRC Centre for Business Relationships Accountability Sustainability and Society (BRASS), Cardiff University (URN 06/2220, see Related Documents). This report provides an analysis of the potential gaps in the regulation of the development, manufacture, supply and use and end of life of free engineered nanoparticles.
The Council for Science and Technology (CST), the UK Government’s top level advisory body on strategic science and technology policy, will conduct independent two and five year reviews of progress with the actions in the Government's response. CST will also assess the implications of any new developments.
CST has now begun its two year review and published a call for evidence on its web site. The Government has published its response on 4 October 2006, which describes the actions taken by Government Departments, Agencies and Research Councils in delivering its commitments. (See 'Related Documents' on the right side of this page.)
The Nanotechnology Engagement Group (NEG) has been established to support public bodies in developing a wider programme of social and ethical research and public dialogue around nanotechnology. It will also draw more general lessons for the governance of other emerging science and technology areas.