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Governance and ethics of nanosciences and nanotechnologies

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Overcoming barriers to nanotechnology R&D

Nanosciences and nanotechnologies (N&N) have far-reaching socioeconomic and environmental effects, but demand a safe and responsible approach to research and development (R&D). An EU initiative has raised widespread awareness on governance and ethics concerns in N&N.

Industrial Technologies

The EU invests substantial funds in R&D for N&N to benefit society without harming humans or the environment. In 2008, the European Commission set forth a code of conduct to ensure safe, ethical and sustainable N&N research and general principles and guidelines to achieve good governance. Creating the right conditions for responsible N&N research remains a challenge. In this context, the EU-funded NANOETHICS 2011 (Governance and ethics of nanosciences and nanotechnologies) project set out to inform a broad range of public and private stakeholders on the code of conduct and other governance and ethics developments. To achieve this, project partners organised an international conference in Warsaw during the Polish Presidency of the Council of the EU. It provided an overview of the key issues concerning N&N governance and ethics. It also served as a discussion forum for the code, including current developments in the Member States, problems arising from its adoption and how it is viewed by various key actors. The two-day event attracted more than 120 policymakers, industry and non-governmental organisation representatives, experts, scientists and the general public from around the world. The conference led to recommendations for the code's successful uptake. NANOETHICS 2011 engaged relevant stakeholders and citizens in dialogue in order to tackle N&N challenges. Realising the full potential of R&D for N&N will help achieve sustainable growth, boost European competitiveness, create jobs, protect the environment and enhance quality of life.

Keywords

Nanotechnology, nanosciences and nanotechnologies, research and development, governance, ethics

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