Regulating in Thin Air: Nanotechnology Regulation in the European Union


  • Sebastian K. Mielke


This article analyzes the challenges faced by regulators in the European Union when dealing with nanotechnology. By examining the status quo of nanospecific regulation as well as current proposals for future legislation, the article shows the difficulty of adapting the main regulatory tool – the precautionary principle – to challenges in areas such as chemicals, novel food, cosmetics, medical devices or biocides. Designed to work in areas in which there is only a very limited knowledge base, regulators are forced to apply the precautionary principle in a way that achieves a balance between the protection of human health and the environment, on the one hand, and the promotion of wealth and technological progress, on the other.