The quality of content in the ACI Scholarly Blog Index is due to the rigor of our selection process and to the incredible scholarship and credentials of scholarly bloggers publishing in their fields. Due to this selectivity in content and academic contributions, ACI is proud to highlight exceptional blog authors in order to showcase their work and inspire other authors… and today’s author spotlight is on Lynn Bergeson.
“We started our nano blog almost a decade ago based on a clear need to distribute information broadly and quickly. Information distribution is critical in any commercial space, and the legal market is no exception. Because we accept no advertisements, we developed and maintain the blog entirely as a service to innovators and others and because institutionally we care about the sustainable development of emerging technologies.” – Lynn Bergeson
Read on for ACI’s full interview with Lynn Bergeson.
Your firm, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C., specializes in needs involved in “conventional and engineered nanoscale chemical, pesticide, and other specialty chemical product[s].” How did this focus come about? Was there an intrinsic interest in nanotechnology or chemical technology beforehand, or was there a particular case or event that led you down that path?
The natural evolution of chemical production led us to follow our clients into evolving areas that require advocacy and legal navigation. We have been in the nano space for over a decade and the commercialization of nanoscale materials is quite robust now in both the conventional and agrochemical spaces, including biocides.
There seems to be a lot of activity in the nanoscale and chemical technology industries, whether it’s new developments, policy shifts, or debates, etc. How hard is it to keep up with policy, regulation, or other needed info in such dynamic and hot-topic fields?
From my perch in Washington, D.C., it is challenging to keep pace with these developments, but possible with a comprehensive monitoring system in place. In the U.S. science and regulatory policy setting context, it is imperative to know and participate in developments before you read about them in the trade press or Federal Register, and to be involved in the shaping of these policies. This involves vigilant monitoring in regulatory, legal (litigation), standard setting, and research and development areas of multiple agencies of the federal government, the National Nanotechnology Initiative, and key states (California). Mindful that marketing for new products is a global matter, it is equally important to monitor in Europe and Asia, and in key stakeholder groups including the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and related international standard setting and critical discussion group areas. Understanding the state of the science and the commercial space is essential also, not just in nano but in biotechnology, synthetic biology, and in technology convergence areas as well.
It is important to stay on top of developments, which is why Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) has for many years maintained a nano blog and more recently started a biobased chemicals blog, a blog focused on pesticide law and policy, and a blog regarding Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform implementation. We try hard to keep our clients and interested others informed and knowledgeable about key policy and legal developments.
You were the primary author for the article, The DNA of the U.S. Regulatory System: Are we getting it right for synthetic biology?, which notes that the “scope and speed of genetic change that synthetic biology can achieve” even exceeds recombinant DNA techniques, and that synthetic biology can “kick-start quickly and relatively inexpensively the creation of organisms and entire biological systems.” To what extent are new (or in-process) developments, or even improvements, hindered by governing bodies that can’t — or can barely — keep up with the surge of technological advancement in these areas?
Evolving technologies can be hindered when essential government approvals are delayed for excessive periods of time, while federal agencies sort out jurisdictional and related legal issues that can prove challenging. Delays to market are a primary reason investors and other commercial stakeholders remain skeptical when it comes to funding new technologies. When investment is blunted, commercialization opportunities suffer. Our report on synthetic biology offered specific recommendations to address these concerns, one of which is already underway, namely the modernizing of the Coordinated Framework for regulation of biotechnology. The federal government and key state stakeholders and industry need to work together under the next Administration to keep each other informed and close the gap between governance constructs and evolving chemical innovations to serve society well.
Chambers USA wrote, “Peers predict that she is set to become ‘one of the most important lawyers in America.’” Would the undergraduate-you at Michigan State have anticipated your eventual path or present success? Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently during those years, or during your years as a law student at Catholic University?
As I suspect is the case for many of my peers, I had no clear line of sight when I was an undergraduate or law student as to my future endeavors. Two rules guided my work: I followed my passion and I worked hard. The intersection of law and science is a fascinating space and will forever need committed lawyers, scientists, and others to make the world a better place. The legal market was better when I was starting out than it is now, but employers and others will always need smart, hard-working, ethical, and committed professionals to guide the governance pathway and to knit together emerging technologies and the application of traditional legal and governance systems.
“It is important to stay on top of developments, which is why Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) has for many years maintained a nano blog and more recently started a biobased chemicals blog, a blog focused on pesticide law and policy, and a blog regarding Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform implementation.” – Lynn Bergeson
It looks like your blog began in early 2007. What led you to start blogging? Has your approach to blogging changed since those early years?
We started our nano blog almost a decade ago based on a clear need to distribute information broadly and quickly. Information distribution is critical in any commercial space, and the legal market is no exception. Because we accept no advertisements, we developed and maintain the blog entirely as a service to innovators and others and because institutionally we care about the sustainable development of emerging technologies. Our approach has not really changed over the years; we learn of developments and push them out as quickly as possible. We are content-driven, and hope our blogs help keep people informed.
Do you have any advice for others who think about blogging on their professional interest areas, but are hesitant to start due to concerns about time, finding topics, reader interest, or other factors?
Those are all good points to consider. As there are many, many sources of information, it is critical to ensure that the content is accurate and informative to ensure that people will seek your content out based on the quality of the information provided. Accordingly, content must be accurate, insightful, and timely. If you can ensure those features define your content, and you are committed to develop a following (meaning you are in it for a sustained period of time), your blog can be successful.