Nanotechnology: Rhetoric, risk and regulation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Nanotechnology has engendered much debate. This article asks how we can best approach nanotechnology regulation and aims to separate out the risk rhetoric from the regulatory realities. It argues that any discussion of nanotechnology regulation requires us to traverse three fundamentally distinct languages: the language of 'nanotechnology' as a public policy phenomenon; the language of 'nanotechnologies' as a set of multiple scientific frontiers; and the language of regulation. These three languages co-exist and have a profound influence in framing policy debates. Nanotechnology needs to be understood as a brand as well as in terms of scientific frontiers. This article suggests that society now confronts a number of pressing regulatory challenges. These include: moving past the language game; filling scientific knowledge gaps; strengthening standards; articulating regulatory gaps; finding the right risk-reward balance; regulating in an optimum manner; and achieving appropriate transparency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbersct029
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalScience and Public Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Framing
  • Governance
  • Language
  • Nanotechnology
  • Politics
  • Risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Public Administration
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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