Noting that higher crop yields and improved nutrition could be achieved with the application of nanotechnology, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) has issued its most recent report addressing topics that may affect the country’s ability to move nanotech from research laboratories to commercial products. Those topics include federal research and development investments under the National Nanotechnology Initiative; U.S. international competitiveness; environmental, health and safety issues; nanomanufacturing; and public attitudes toward, and understanding of, nanotechnology.  

According to the report, “widespread uncertainty” continues as to the potential environmental, health and safety implications of nanotechnology, and bringing nanotech products “into safe, reliable, effective, and affordable commercial-scale production in a factory environment may require the development of new and unique technologies, tools, instruments, measurement science, and standards for nanomanufacturing.” CRS also reports that more than 42 percent of Americans had never heard of nanotechnology as of 2007, while 6 percent indicated that they had “heard a lot.” Those most likely to believe that the benefits of nanotechnology outweigh the risks were those earning more than $75,000 annually, men, people who had heard about it, and those between the ages of 35 and 64.