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NJ Daily / HILL BRIEFS

Commerce Panel Weighs Risks, Rewards Of Nanotechnology

April 25, 2008

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., Thursday called for a well-coordinated, well-funded, government approach to environmental, health and safety research in the nanotechnology arena, saying he worries federal oversight efforts have not placed enough emphasis on evaluating risks to humans and the environment.

At a hearing of the Senate Commerce Science Subcommittee, which he chairs, Kerry said ramping up such research will be a top priority as lawmakers move forward with a reauthorization bill for projects across the 25 agencies that contribute to the National Nanotechnology Initiative. “It’s critical that we do the research up front, so we’re not asking what went wrong a hundred years from now,” he said.

Richard Russell, associate director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, called the NNI a model for interagency cooperation and said coordination of EHS work has been strong and successful. The administration believes the organization, structure, and management of the NNI is effective,e and Russell urged lawmakers “to proceed with caution” in considering changes. He also said that, in an era where federal budget set-asides are under extreme pressure, “we need to be particularly careful not to increase the overhead expenses unduly.”

This article appears in the April 26, 2008 edition of NJ Daily.

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