ABA Journal Includes Comments By Lynn L. Bergeson In Article “The Good, the Bad, and the Tiny”
“The legal profession needs to be very mindful of the legal obligations that arise because of this technology,” says Lynn L. Bergeson, the managing director at Bergeson & Campbell in Washington, D.C., and chair of the Pesticides, Chemical Regulation and Right-to-Know Committee in the ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resources. “Some say nano is the wild, wild West out there, but nothing could be further from the truth.”
So far, says Bergeson, efforts by government, industry and independent research groups to create a framework for addressing issues raised by nanotechnology have been piecemeal.
“Would I have preferred a greater coordinated effort on research early on? Absolutely,” she says. “Could the federal government be more focused on coordinating and prioritizing research to form the basis for regulatory enhancements? Yes. That’s an issue the chemical industry has been urging for the last two-and-a-half years. But we live in an imperfect world, and coordinating the behemoths of the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and all the other federal agencies is no small task.”
In addition, says Bergeson, some effort should be made to coordinate research and educational activities in the United States with various initiatives being undertaken by the European Union and other international organizations.
“If I had my way,” says Bergeson, “a comprehensive research road map would be undertaken by the National Academy of Sciences to ensure that research priorities are being properly addressed and coordinated.”
Bergeson’s committee in the Environment, Energy and Resources Section is one of two ABA entities analyzing the legal framework for addressing issues relating to nanotechnology.
Bergeson emphasizes the timeliness of those efforts. “Lawyers have an important opportunity to help define some of these issues, to help regulators understand what the technology is and how existing regulatory law applies, and where additional analysis and research could be best applied,” she says. “It’s helpful to ‘blue-sky’ these issues now, so we’re not caught flat-footed, so when Congress starts asking about the adequacy of the legal infrastructure, we’ve got something to say.”
Bergeson expects Congress, sometime soon, to review whether the Toxic Substances Control Act in its current form is adequate to deal with nano-scale materials.
Referring to the kinds of coalitions that are developing on the issue, Bergeson says, “Nanotechnology forges alliances where you might not expect them.”