Website compiles nanotechnology documents

A global database of government documents on nanotechnology is being launched by researchers at Arizona State University, who, with their colleagues at Monash University in Australia and the KU Leuven’s Institute in Belgium, have organised a massive number of regulatory documents dealing with the rapidly advancing technology.

The Nanotech Regulatory Document Archive is a free resource built and maintained by the Center for the Study of Law, Science and Technology at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

Over the past year, Gary Marchant, the centre’s executive director, and centre faculty fellows Douglas Sylvester and Kenneth Abbott developed the database with a grant from the US Department of Energy’s Genomic Science Program.

The archive will enable government regulators, industry officials and public-interest groups to search for a variety of documents from every country in the world and from every level of government. Its creation comes at a time when the worldwide regulation of nanotechnology is expected to ramp up considerably in an attempt to keep pace with the science, according to Marchant.

‘Every country is in the same place, going through the same steps, starting to put into place regulatory programs,’ he said. ‘We need to promote harmonisation among these countries and one way to do that is to see what other people are doing.’

Sylvester expects the website to become an essential resource for the latest news on nanotechnology regulation and a tool for researching and comparing regulatory approaches around the world.

In the database, each entry provides a direct link and/or an attached copy of a specific document, an abstract of that document prepared for the database and a listing of other information, including author, date and document type. Documents for a specific jurisdiction can be accessed by clicking on a map or on a region, nation or entity.

‘The website is intended to operate as an edited wiki and we urge users from around the globe to edit, add, delete and comment on the website,’ said Sylvester. ‘It’s a great tool, but it will require users to keep it up to date.’