PANEL 1 - Domestic Regulation of Nanotechnologies

At present, the development, production and commercialization of nano-products and technologies rely primarily on existing regulation of the same substances in their "bulk" or traditional form. In European and North American regulations rules and procedures applied to traditional chemical, food-related, and cosmetics are deemed to encompass the nano-form of the products with virtually no opportunity for a separate consideration of the specific and novel properties of nano-materials. Other countries, including China, are also moving towards legislation similar to the European model.

The panel will offer an overview of existing domestic legislation in various countries that are taking the lead on nanotech regulation, with particular emphasis on the limitations, gaps and opportunities of current developments.

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  • Sonia Rolland, Northeastern University School of Law
  • Rick Reibstein, Massachusetts Office of Technical Assistance, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
  • Mario Norberto Baibich, Ministry of Science and Technology, Brazil; Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
  • Linda Breggin, Environmental Law Institute
  • Diana Bowman, University of Melbourne

PANEL 2 - From Labs to Markets: The Commerce of Nanotechnologies

With production centers in Asia, Europe and North America, and worldwide markets, nanotechnologies are already traded globally and the trend is poised to increase as more products reach commercialization. What is the experience of corporations bringing nanotechnologies to the international markets? What barriers to trade do they experience? What rules and safe-harbors does the industry need to proceed safely with research and development, testing and commercialization? How can we think about occupational safety in the face of these untested products? What are the hurdles with respect to financing and insurance of these new technologies? What safeguards can countries put into place against foreign products they do not consider safe? From the users perspective, what procedures should be put into place to protect consumers?

This panel will present the views of industry representatives, labor and worker safety specialists and consumer advocates to discuss the international commercialization of nanotechnologies.

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  • Seth Coe-Sullivan, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, QD Vision
  • Paul Schulte, Manager, NIOSH Nanotechnology Research Center
  • Mike Knowles, Vice President, Global Scientific and Regulatory Affairs for Coca-Cola, Chairman of the CIAA Nanotechnology Task Force
  • Ahmed Busnaina, Northeastern University, Director of the NSF Center for Microcontamination Control and the Center for High-Rate Nanomanufacturing

PANEL 3 - Global Intellectual Property Issues for Nanotechs

With hundreds of patents granted and thousands being filed world-wide on nano-structures and some governmental patents office creating new classifications for nano-related patents, this new technology is prompting a growing activity in the IP field. Both universities and businesses have been active in this area but the legal structures and practices are still very much in flux. A major challenge is that nanotechnologies are not a uniform class of inventions. indeed, nano materials, which are simply a smaller scale of a known bulk material and nano robots, for example, trigger entirely different sets of IP protection concerns.

Creating a legal structure that accurately reflects the scientific and innovative characteristics of nanotechnologies is an on-going process that will be discussed in this panel by patent examiners, IP lawyers and innovators.

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PANEL 4  - Intergovernmental Solutions: Building a Coherent Transnational Framework for Nanotechnologies

Social, cultural and legal perspectives vary greatly on how to deal with nanotechnologies yet in a globalized market, the norms of the place of production have a direct impact on end uses, human, animal and environmental impact in the receiving markets. The interests of the chain of stakeholders must also be addressed if the regulatory framework is to offer a constructive and comprehensive solution to the dilemmas of these new products and technologies. This panel will explore how inter-governmental cooperation can help to address these challenges.

From informal harmonization of domestic rules to inter-governmental collaboration, speakers from the US EPA, Korea and Switzerland will discuss how they engage with their counterparts in different countries to improve nanotech regulation.

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  • Jeff Morris, EPA Director of Nanotechnology
  • Gary Marchant, Arizona State University
  • Gabi Eigenmann, Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN)
  • Dae Young Park, Secretary General of Korea Environmental Council in Europe and Managing Partner of Young & Global Partners

Roundtable — Balancing Public and Private Interests: An Interdisciplinary Conversation on the Ethics of Nanotechnologies Regulation

The complex relationships between science, risk, uncertainty are not new or unique to nanotechnologies. Yet, the fact that in many cases, nanotechnologies exploit the undiscovered capabilities of materials we otherwise think of as safe raises a different type of challenge. Moreover, governments, the industry and the public have not always been successful at dealing with the issues relating to new technologies, as has been experienced with the GMO disputes, and more recently the questions and policies surrounding gene therapy. Can we think of ways to ensure a smoother transition from labs to markets? What should be the features of a framework dealing with the governance of nanotechnologies? How to integrate more effectively the various stakeholders? To what extent socio-economic considerations can be integrated in global governance?

This round table bringing together experts from backgrounds including ethics, science, law and economics will offer perspectives on the normative underpinnings of global nanotechnologies governance.

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Keynote Presentation: Christopher J. Bosso, Professor and Associate Dean, School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University

Professor Bosso will speak about nanotech governance in the face of uncertainty. He will present insights from his new edited volume, Governing Uncertainty: Environmental Regulation in the Age of Nanotechnology.

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