China's future in nanotechnology

By Eugene Clark
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, February 17, 2014
Adjust font size:

While Nanotechnology and nanoscience expand and show great potential, uncertainties remain about potential harms to humans and environment that may occur as a result of unforeseen harm that may result from nanoscale production. When nanoscale products are applied to humans, for example in the case of medical and food products, the concerns are especially sensitive. It is important to avoid the mistakes of the past, for example, when microparticles from asbestos resulted in major harm to people, which were remedied only after many deaths and at great cost.

Over the past five years, China has moved quickly to get all of the elements in place to become a world leader in this technology where the United States, Germany and Korea are among the other major competitors. These elements include: promoting research, attracting top science talent, funding nanoscience and technology; encouraging startups; strong university-industry links, coordination among various government agencies and making nanotechnology a key government priority.

While China is evolving its own legal/administrative framework to govern nanotechnology, eventually there will be a need for international agreement. International standards are slowly emerging.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published on Jan. 6, 2014, a report entitled "Nanotechnologies -- Considerations for the development of chemical nomenclature for selected nano-objects" (ISO/TR 14786:2014). The ISO provides that ISO/TR 14786:2014 "is intended to facilitate communications between developers and potential users of nomenclature including academia, industry, government and non-governmental organizations.

In the absence of an international legal regime governing nanoproducts, some regions have moved on their own with the EU among the most active in relation to nanotechnology regulation. A recent example is the European Commission (EC) Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) "Memorandum on Relevance, Adequacy and Quality of Data in Safety Dossiers on Nanomaterials" circulated on Dec. 19, 2013. This dealt with the provision of food information to consumers as regards the definition of engineered nanomaterials.

In contrast to the EU, however, in many developing countries, laws and regulations do not distinguish between materials in their nanoscale and bulk form. This means that nanomaterials in these countries remain effectively unregulated. There is no regulatory requirement for nanomaterials to face new health and safety testing or environmental impact assessment prior to their use in commercial products, if these materials have already been approved in bulk form. Given that nanoproducts are exported to other countries and become part of international trade chain, there are concerns about the suitability of monitoring and supervision of the health and safety of these products at the various stages of production and at various points in the supply and distribution chain.

In conclusion, the future of nanotechnology looks bright and China's star is among the brightest in this new global constellation of manufacturing and other activity on a nanoscale.

The author is a columnist with For more information please visit:

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

Follow on Twitter and on Facebook to join the conversation.

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
   Previous   1   2  

Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from