Popeye and the FDA

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A whole spate of stories are popping up ahead of the first major public meeting at the US Food and Drug Administration next tuesday, claiming that the agency lacks the resources and the knowlwdge to be able to effectively regulate nanotechnology. Researchers, lobbyists and consultants will be out in force, hoping to beat the FDA with a big enough stick to shake out some extra cash. The situation is further complicated as post of commissioner may also be up for grabs as the current incumbent is only an acting commissioner.

But hold on a minute. Is this the same FDA that seems to have trouble regulating spinach, a substance that consumers are far more likely to encounter than quantum dots?

As the Chicago Tribune puts it “The FDA’s regulatory responsibilities are vast, while its budget and staff have been squeezed in recent years,” so we have to wonder whether there are more pressing concerns for the agency to worry about than nanotech. Public consultation is useful, but if the agency lacks the ability to put any conclusions into practice, it’s all just so much hot air.

Still, it would be fun if someone were to bring up this piece of research at the hearing.

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