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Nanoscience and nanotechnology: Ethical, legal, social and environmental issues

This paper by scientists at the University of Hyderabad examines the nanoscience debate in India. Nanoscience's revolutionary potential and economic benefits are assessed against ethical, legal, social and environmental (ELSE) issues.

The authors present commercial applications, investment, risks and regulatory mechanisms, using the case of Bt cotton in India to show the implications of a new technology. They argue that India's diverse socio-cultural landscape means that nanoscience is likely to have uneven and multilayered effects.

India's scientists do not advocate regulation at the current stage of research — so as not to slow down development, say the authors. But they add that a broad-based and transparent regulatory body to address ELSE issues and funding for research on them would be beneficial.