Regulation of all new technology ebbs and flows between periods of under- and over-regulation, often dependant on the viewpoint of the observer and the underlying objectives of the particular regulation. As illustrated by genetic modification (GM) applications, defining what constitutes appropriate regulation for a rapidly evolving technology can be difficult. Drawing upon the lessons of GM, we argue that nanotechnology will go through similar periods of inappropriate regulation. As with GM, future regulatory responses to nanotechnology will be shaped by perceptions of risk and willingness to accept varying levels of risk. With varying responses between jurisdictions appearing inevitable, we argue that the timing and type of regulation adopted for nanotechnology, and its appropriateness, will be crucial to its commercial success.
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