According to a news source, the United States and Canada have begun to develop a coordinated model framework to regulate nanomaterials. A draft plan, unveiled during a January 2012 meeting of the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council involving officials with the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Environment Canada, identifies the following as the “deliverable outcome”: “Share information and develop common approaches, to the extent possible, on foundational regulatory elements, including criteria for determining characteristics of concern/no concern, information gathering, approaches to risk assessment and management, etc. Develop joint initiatives to align regulatory approaches in specific areas such that consistency exists for consumers and industry in Canada and the US.”
Industry officials attending the meeting were reportedly cautiously optimistic about the initiative. They urged government representatives to build on the work already done by European regulators to maintain some consistency, but also suggested that American officials move away from the EU system given its “overwhelmingly precautionary” approach. Environment Canada’s Karen Dodds noted that coordination would be effective for setting priorities, assessing and managing risks, collecting commercial information, and sharing resources. OMB’s Margaret Malanoski apparently indicated that the framework would follow several key principles: reliance on the best scientific and technical information; consideration of risk, safety benefits and other criteria; communications with stakeholders about risks and benefits; and consistency with existing laws.
Some industry officials called for the agencies to start by defining nanomaterials, claiming that too broad a definition could cover materials that are not nanoscale. A representative of the International Center for Technology reportedly called for the investment of more resources into health and safety testing, noting that since the United States began coordinating nanotechnology efforts in 2005, a mere 4.1 percent of funding has been provided for health and safety research. See InsideEPA.com, February 10, 2012.