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Nanotechnology and Nanoscience The Royal Society

Nanotechnology: Civil Society Groups


In June 2003 the UK Government commissioned the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering to carry out an independent study of likely developments in nanotechnology and to examine whether nanotechnology raises or is likely to raise new health and safety, environmental, social or ethical issues which are not covered by current regulation. The terms of reference for the study are as follows:

  1. define what is meant by nanoscience and nanotechnology;
  2. summarise the current state of scientific knowledge about nanotechnology;
  3. identify the specific applications of the new technologies, in particular where nanotechnology is already in use;
  4. carry out a forward look to see how the technology might be used in future, where possible estimating the likely time scales in which the most far-reaching applications of the technology might become reality;
  5. identify what environmental, health and safety, ethical or societal implications or uncertainties may arise from the use of the technology, both current and future;
  6. identify areas where regulation needs to be considered.

As part of the process of gathering evidence for the study the working group had a meeting with representatives of civil society organisations on 30 October 2003. Representatives from 22 organisations were invited, and 6 were able to attend. The following is a summary of some of the main points of discussion. It does not necessarily represent consensus amongst attendees.


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The Royal Society 2003
The Royal Academy of Engineering