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Fall 2011

Professor Examines Legal and Policy Issues of an Emerging Field

Law Professor Victoria Sutton examines the emerging area of nanotechnology law and policy.

by Sally Logue Post

Nano Technology Law and Policy

With the rapid growth of the nanotechnology field, new questions are arising around how best to regulate this emerging technology. A new book is focusing on existing regulations and on legal issues surrounding nanotech products.

The new book “Nanotechnology Law and Policy” by Victoria Sutton, Horn Professor of Law at Texas Tech and director of the of the Center for Biodefense, Law and Public Policy, takes a look at legal, regulatory and policy issues surrounding this new technology.

“There are very few cases about nanotechnology,” said Sutton. “But as the field continues to grow and commercialization of products increases, there also will be more legal and regulatory questions.”

The book, published by Carolina Academic Press, considers how policy statements issued by federal agencies might regulate nanotechnology. Sutton also examines how agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration are applying existing statutes and regulations to nanotechnology.

Sutton draws on materials she has compiled for use in a class on nanotechnology law and policy at the Texas Tech School of Law over the past three years. The book comes with an instructor’s guide and teaching materials.

A Nano-trial

Sutton takes the legal issues surrounding nanotechnology a step further with a trial exercise that analyzes what would happen in litigation at the end of Michael Crichton’s 2002 book “Prey.” Sutton's exercise, published as the e-book “Military Technologies, Nanotechnology and Law: Using Nano-Science Fiction,” opens after a group of predatory nano-robots is released from a nanotechnology laboratory and concludes with a warning about potential criminal action and civil lawsuits.

“While the book is far-fetched and the case is fictitious, it seemed a good example to examine a legal case involving nanotechnology,” said Sutton.

Sutton’s trial practice packet focuses on expert testimony, but it also includes an overview of witness preparation, pretrial motions, voir dire, introduction of exhibits, and all the documents and materials needed for a trial practice exercise.

Victoria Sutton

Victoria Sutton is a Horn professor and Bean professor of law in the Texas Tech School of Law. She also is director of the Center for Biodefense, Law and Public Policy, the only center at a law school in the U.S. to focus solely on issues of law and biodefense, biosecurity and bioterrorism. She is establishing director of the Law and Science Certificate Program and directs the JD/MS Programs in Environmental Toxicology, Biotechnology, and Plant and Soil Sciences.

Sutton has published numerous books; law review articles; and invited articles on law and science, environmental law, American Indian law, Constitutional law, and law and bioterrorism. She was awarded the university-wide President's Book Award for her groundbreaking casebook “Law and Science: Cases and Materials.”

 

Sally Post is Director of Research & Academic Communications for the Office of the Vice President for Research at Texas Tech University.

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Sep 24, 2014