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Mind the Gap: Science and ethics in nanotechnology

This paper by Anisa Mnyusiwall and colleagues at the University of Toronto, Canada reviews the state of nanotechnology literature, funding and policy documents.

Writing in the journal Nanotechnology, the authors say that although nanotechnology promises great developments for medicine, electronics and materials and has abundant funding, quality research on its ethical, legal and social implications is lacking. This is not because of a lack of funds, they say, but rather a need for quality proposals.

Summarising the key concerns about nanotechnology, they warn that unless the 'ethics gap' is closed, nanotechnology itself is under threat: public fear may prompt its rejection before its potential has been fully assessed. The authors call for funding to be set aside to address this, and for large-scale interdisciplinary research on ethical issues, capacity building, public engagement, and the involvement of developing countries.