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A nanotechnology report card

3:00pm, October 8, 2006

Research on how nanotechnology affects human health and the environment must be expanded, states a National Research Council report.

The National Nanotechnology Initiative, created by the Clinton administration in 2000, coordinates the many federal agencies that fund nanotechnology research. In 2003, Congress mandated that the National Research Council, an arm of the National Academies, conduct triennial reviews of the initiative.

The first review, released Sept. 25, presents a mixed picture. It cites several of the initiative's accomplishments, such as the establishment of five new nanoscale science research centers, operated by the Department of Energy. But the report also notes that the United States' leadership in the field is fading. For example, both Japan and the European Union are catching up to U.S. funding levels.

Overall, U.S. researchers are "facing significant and increasing international competition," the report says. In the early 1990s, U.S. scienti

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