Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

  • Nanotech panel urges cautious use, but no ban


A British 'citizen's jury' has recommended that public funding in nanotechnology should prioritise long-term solutions to health and environmental problems.

Commenting on the jury's conclusions, Ou Longxin, a policy research of China's National Centre for Nanoscience and Technology, said that the jury had confirmed the belief that nanotechnology could bring many benefits to developing countries.

The panel, made up of a cross-section of the British public, has also called for openness about the way that public research funds are spent on nanotechnology — and better communication skills among scientists to explain what they are doing with the money.

Ou agreed that better communication is needed, and said this is particularly true in developing countries where public knowledge about the technology is quite poor.

But the panel, one of the first efforts to engage members of the public in 'upstream' discussions of new technological development, did not endorse calls for a ban on the new technology until more is known about its potentially damaging consequences.

The 'jury', known as NanoJuryUK, had been asked to address the potential benefits of costs of nanotechnology, and was sponsored by four British organisations, including the environmental group Greenpeace UK, a research centre at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, and a bioethics research centre at the University of York, also in the United Kingdom.

Its conclusions were based on evidence presented to a series of hearings held earlier this year, at which a range of witnesses were cross-examined about the potential benefits of nanotechnology in fields ranging from healthcare to defence, as well as its potential dangers.

We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.