Filling the information void: Using public registries as a tool in nanotechnologies regulation [Book Review]

Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 6 (1):25-36 (2009)
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Abstract

Based on the experiences of two high profile voluntary data collection programs for engineered nanomaterials, this article considers the merit of an international online registry for scientific data on engineered nanomaterials and environmental, health and safety (EHS) data. Drawing on the earlier experiences from the pharmaceutical industry, the article considers whether a registry of nanomaterials at the international level is practical or indeed desirable, and if so, whether such an initiative—based on the current state of play—should be voluntary or mandatory. The article commences with an examination of the success and failures of voluntary reporting schemes in the UK and the US, as well as the International Council of Nanotechnology’s EHS Database and the OECD’s Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials. The article then examines the history of clinical trials registries, including the key motivations behind their creation, the role of self-regulation, and the perceived benefits thereof. Key lessons of the rise of clinical trials registration are highlighted, as are crucial considerations that must be addressed by policy makers should a multi-lateral public registry for data on nanoscale materials and EHS research be perceived to be a desirable option. The article concludes by arguing that while the creation of a registry to record information generated on nanomaterials is not straightforward, this reason alone should not deter industry from taking a proactive approach to the dissemination of fundamental data and research findings.

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