Regulating Emerging and Future Technologies in the Present

NanoEthics 9 (2):151-163 (2015)
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Scientific knowledge and technological expertise continue to evolve rapidly. Such innovation gives rise to new benefits as well as risks, at an ever-increasing pace. Within this context, regulatory regimes must function in order to address policymakers’ objectives. Innovation, though, can challenge the functioning and effectiveness of regulatory regimes. Questions over fit, effectiveness, and capacity of these regimes to ensure the safe entry of such technologies, and their products, onto the market will be asked in parallel to their development. With this in mind, this article examines the strengths and weaknesses of current regulatory frameworks, including those designed for biotechnology, cosmetics, novel organisms, and foods, in order to inform and help shape Australia’s regulatory landscape around innovation. By focusing on Australia, the article illustrates the need to assess future changes to regulatory frameworks using a careful balancing of key factors. These include, for example, horizon scanning and monitoring, availability of appropriate data, existing health, safety, environmental, ethical, and social risks and impacts, and regulatory capacity. The article argues that rather than using one of these factors in isolation, a careful assessment of where each factor stands can lead regulators to an approach that properly manages the potential risks of emerging technologies



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