July 18, 2008 — U.S. Senators John Kerry and Olympia Snowe this week introduced the National Nanotechnology Initiative Amendments Act of 2008. The legislation was passed by the House of Representatives last month. The legislation aims to toughen the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) by increasing its commitment to environmental health and safety research. Sens. Inouye, Stevens, Pryor, Smith, and Wyden have co-sponsored the bill.
“Nanotechnology is a huge part of America’s future, but it’ll never take off if people don’t trust that it’s safe,” said Sen. Kerry. “As we begin to further understand the immense capacity of this technology to improve our quality of life, public health and environmental safety must be top priorities.”
“This tiny science has limitless potential to revolutionize our daily lives and solve the daunting challenges of our future,” said Sen. Snowe. “Due to the ever-changing landscape of the nanotechnology field, it is imperative that we strengthen the National Nanotechnology Initiative by encouraging nanotechnology education, research and economic development. It is also critical the NNI be equipped with the resources to properly address unanswered environmental and safety concerns of nanotechnology.”
The National Nanotechnology Initiative Amendments Act of 2008 calls on the White House to implement a plan for Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) research that identifies a timeline for both short- and long-term goals and specifies needed funding by objective and agency. It also would designate within the White House a Coordinator for Societal Dimensions of Nanotechnology, who would be responsible for implementing the plan. The legislation also requires a public database for EHS research projects and White House compliance to recommendations from NNI’s external advisory committee.