Support for nanosciences if managed ethically

September 29, 2006

Brussels, 28 Sep 2006

In adopting a report, MEPs welcomes an action plan by the European Commission for a safe, integrated and responsible strategy for nanosciences and nanotechnologies for the period 2005-2009. MEPs believe nanotechnologies can help address needs such as public health, energy and transport, and contribute to the EU's competitiveness and sustainable development goals..

In an own-initiative report by Miloslav RANSDORF (GUE/NGL, CZ), they therefore stress the need to increase publicly funded investment in R&D, saying that world-class R&D infrastructure is needed for the EU to remain competitive in nanosciences. The EU must also clarify the legal and business environment for these technologies and create a nanoscience patent monitoring system governed by the European Patent Office.

In addition, say MEPs, an ethical approach is essential to win public trust. They therefore welcome planned reviews of issues such as non-therapeutic human enhancement and the links between nanosciences and nanotechnologies and individual privacy, but they urge that these reviews be made public. They also call for ethical committees to be set up to help ensure the public is properly informed and to create a climate of trust based on awareness of the risks and the benefits of nanotechnologies.

Nanotechnology is the manipulation or self-assembly of individual atoms, molecules, or molecular clusters into structures to create materials and devices with new or vastly different properties. Materials from carbon nanotubes are 100 time stronger than steel, but 6 times lighter; silver nanoparticles on the surfaces of refrigerators, air conditioners and laundry machines act as antibacterial and antifungal agents. Other nanoscience-based products are anti-graffiti paints, long lasting batteries and self-cleaning textiles. Nanotechnologists are also investigating ways of discovering and administering new medicines and devising new security techniques for crime prevention.

European Parliament
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