New products frequently give rise to new waves of product liability litigation. With nanotechnology-rooted innovation forecasted to account for upward of $1.5 trillion in global commerce by 2015, the stakes are high. The low-hanging fruit of nanotechnology is being harvested now, with some 600 nano-labeled products on the market internationally (including such things as sunscreens). But the bigger investment and return on nanotechnology is poised to unfold over the next five to 15 years and beyond — in the form of personalized medicine (targeted drug delivery, with fewer side effects); improved, cleaner means of energy production, storage, and distribution; faster (more powerful, miniaturized) computers and personal communication devices; and major advances in infrastructure improvement, in the form of lighter, stronger cement and steel (among other things). Examples of its promise abound. See Nanotechnology: The Future is Now, metropolitan corporate counsel at 59 (Dec. 2007).

Without doubt, the emerging field of nanotechnology — involving the design and engineering of material, structures, and devices at the atomic and molecular level — is one holding great commercial and social significance for a broad cross-section of the global economy. See D. Wallace and N. Booke, Industrial Revolution Redux, product liability law & strategy at 1 (Jan. 2008). At the same time, nanotechnology raises a number of questions yet to be answered concerning the possible variety of human health and environmental risks that might follow in the wake of commercial exploitation. Significantly, these concerns are increasingly being voiced by a broad cross-section of stakeholders, including a lobbying coalition consisting of industry
players and environmentalists. See, e.g., Agency Seeks Data about
Health, Environmental Risks of Nanotechnology
, worker’s comp. rep. (LRP Pub. Apr. 11, 2008).

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