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Towards a sustainable and responsible development of Nanotechnologies

Nanotechologies are one of the most important technological innovation of the 21st century and could improve the quality of our life. Materia can be manipulated at the nanoscale thanks to its own physical and chemical properties at this level, and the potential applications are considered endless. The development of nanotechnologies deals with material science, medicine, renewable energy, electronics and communication, cosmetics and chemical, construction and may have a great impact on a wide range of industries through the creation of new jobs, the change of citizens’ way of life and the contribution to economic growth. However, nanotechnologies and manufactured nanomaterials are not completely safe. The production and use of these revolutionary innovations could release free engineered nanoparticles on environment with many risks for humans and animals. People don’t know exactly what nanotechnologies are and what could be the risks for their health. Institutions, scientists and industries must reply to many questions and issues linked to these technologies in order to achieve a sustainable and responsible development of Nanotechnologies.

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Technology Sector Evaluation: Health, Medicine & Nanobio, by ObservatoryNano

Nanotechnology has found applications in many industries. Nanomedicine has grown as a discipline in itself and the development of novel structures and advances in nanomaterials is fuelling growth and innovation in the area. The potential of nanotechnology in medicine has been recognised, and a significant amount of funding has been provided to the sector. The number of conferences taking place around the globe on nanotechnology in medicine is an indicator of the interest and potential offered by nanoscience and nanotechnology. The Cancer Nanotechnology Plan by the National Cancer Institute in US and the European Technology Platform Nanomedicine have set out plans for the future research activities needed in the area. A roadmap project which sets out the timeframe for nanomedicine applications has been supported by the European Commission (EC). Several other projects relating to nanomedicine have been funded by the EC 6th and 7th Framework programmes. Many national and pan-European networks also exist, with the aim of bringing together stakeholders to discuss and share information. Nanomednet in the UK, Nanoned in Netherlands, the Spanish nanomedicine platform, CC-NanoBioTech in Germany, and the European Foundation for Clinical Nanomedicine (CLINAM) are examples of such networks which aim to bridge the gap between different groups including scientists, industry, clinicians, investors and policy makers.

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Ethical and Societal Aspects of Nanotechnology Enabled ICT and Security Technologies, by ObservatoryNano

In this report, public debates and literature on ethical and societal aspects of nanotechnology in ICT and security, and civil‐military dual use aspects of nanotechnology are discussed. The main aim is to identify new or persistent issues in these debates that merit the attention of policy makers responsible for nanotechnology in Europe. Another aim is to raise awareness of these issues among the partners in the ObservatoryNano project responsible for reports on technical and economic trends in two of the ten technology sectors covered by the ObservatoryNano: ICT and security.

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A new integrated approach to the responsible development of nanotechnologies, by Framing Nano

This document is the final report of the FramingNano FP7 research project and contains the final proposal of the FramingNano Governance Platform which has been elaborated and refined during the project.

This report includes inputs and comments on the draft Governance Platform gathered during a restricted Expert Workshop and an International Conference, as well as additional detailed background information on the project methodology. The principal basis for the proposed Governance Platform derives from a two-stage Delphi consultation among interested nanotechnology stakeholders, the outcomes of a dialogue of a multi-stakeholder workshop. The conclusions and recommendations in this document represent the result of the entire research of the FramingNano project and the opinion of the FramingNano project consortium.

In the opening chapter of this report (“The FramingNano Governance Platform”) the proposal for a Governance Platform is presented, which was the objective of the FramingNano project. In the following two chapters, “Outlining the Problem of Nano Governance” and “Stakeholder Opinions on Nano Governance”, some of the research results which have been gained throughout the project on nanotechnology governance are reported in detail.

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Mapping study on regulation and governance of nanotechnologies, by Framing Nano

The objective of this report is to provide a picture of recent developments regarding regulation and governance of NS&T in Europe and worldwide, to identify relevant NS&T stakeholder organisations and to make an assessment of this information to prepare the ground for the  following phases of the FramingNano project, i.e. the consultative process among stakeholders and the definition of a Governance Plan for the responsible development of NS&T.

The report (and the FramingNano project in general) focuses on regulation and governance aimed at both risks and concerns (perception of risks), with respect to EHS and ELSI issues, that have to be understood and “framed” or “guided”. Talking about risk assessment is instrumental in defining a regulatory framework. But benefits and opportunities, besides risks, will also be considered as a necessary element of the debate. In the end, governance must always take into account the tradeoff between these two opposing factors.

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Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Impacts | Technology Sector Evaluation: Energy by ObservatoryNano

The EHS analysis of the energy sector considers nanomaterials outlined within the context of their application and provides a summary of what is known in relation to potential exposure to the material in question. The analysis further outlines some key EHS considerations and basic guidance for those developing or using the technologies outlined within the report.

For all of those nanoparticles identified as having potential EHS impact, toxicological knowledge is still emerging, although based on what is known to date a reasonable approximation of potential hazard may be made. The key common knowledge gap across all nanoparticles however is the lack of exposure measurements for the scenarios and applications in question. As the ObservatoryNANO Project progresses, it is expected that these knowledge gaps will be addressed (at least in part) and thus that later EHS reports will be able to reach more resolute conclusions on the risks posed by those nanomaterials in consideration.

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Ethical and social issues in nanobiotechnologies

Nanobiotechnologies represent a rapidly growing field of interest. Several European conferences during the past year have highlighted the wideranging potential of applying techniques at the molecular and atomic levels to understand and transform biosystems, and of using biological principles and materials to create new devices at the nanoscale. This convergence of disciplines holds great promise in medicine for improved diagnostics, less invasive monitoring devices and more targeted therapies, and also has potential for agricultural and environmental applications. However, relatively little has been written about the ethical and social implications of this emerging research area. This article seeks to examine some of these questions, and is based on a report produced by the ethical, legal and social advisory (ELSA) board of the Nano2Life European Network of Excellence in Nanobiotechnology (Bruce, 2006).

Annual Report 4 on Ethical and Societal Aspects, ObservatoryNano WP4

This 4th annual ObservatoryNano report on Ethical and Societal Aspects of Nanotechnology report focuses on Communicating Nanoethics. The report aims to contribute to current EU policy making on Responsible Research and Innovation. A key aspect of this is two-way communication between citizens and EU institutions. As a resource for policy makers, this report offers insights and policy options resulting from analysis of different national public dialogue and engagement activities and their impact on public opinion and policy making.

Policy makers interested in reflecting on the choices they make can gain deeper understanding from a review of risk and science communication literature included in this report. As a case study of a dialogue instrument, the present report includes results of the testing of the ObservatoryNano Ethics Toolkit. This is an instrument for scientists engaging with the public about ethical and societal aspects of their research. This toolkit and other instruments could contribute to responsible (nano) research and innovation.

This report can be download here.

Engaging the Public in Nano: Key Concepts in Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology, NISE Network, 2011

It’s important for everyone to be informed about nanotechnology, because it will be a significant part of our future. Like all technologies, any given nanotechnology has costs, risks, and benefits. Since nanotechnologies are still developing, we can influence what they are and how they’re used. We all have a role in determining how these new technologies will play out in our future.

In this document you can find a guide on nanotechnologies, explaining key concepts in nanoscale science, engineering and technology. Take a look and download it here.

The Nano2All project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme, under the Grant Agreement Number 685931.
This website reflects only the author's view and the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.


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