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.