Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Nanobioethics and Nanoethics

Nanobioethics and Nanoethics help (and help crucially) nanomedicine, nanobiotechnology, nanoscience, nanotechnology and other fields of science that meet the nano-bio convergence to be practiced, developed, grown and find applicability highly beneficial to all society, through a sustainable way. All debates on Nanobioethics and Nanoethics must have the level of excellence (and not just part of them).


Continuing with a series of articles started by a first article titled "The Roots of Nano-Fear Decoded"I discussed some of the various topics that I believe are the basis of the nano-fear.

Therefore, follow the topics which I addressed and the name of the respective articles published by me here, in NanoMedRev Blog:

This article is dedicated to Ethics in nanomedicine, nanobiotechnology, nanoscience and nanotechnology. To be more specific, this article addresses the thematic of Nanobioethics and Nanoethics.

My purpose in this article is, once again contribute with my advice to help demystifying the nano-fear.


Ethics in s
cience and technology comprises the study and debate of problems, possible threats and questions raised by scientific and technological advances in research and its materialization into industries, products, services and consumer goods, among many other aspects.

There are various thematic areas related to nanoscience and nanotechnology that have been the subject of studies and debates of ethical nature.
The Ethics involved into these thematic areas includes:
  • Debate of matters of a social nature (including impact on society);
  • Discussions of anthropological nature;
  • Philosophical debate or discussions put under a philosophical perspective
  • Discussions of matters of legal nature,
  • Discussions of matters of religious nature.

Frequently, these ethical topics are viewed and analyzed from a historical perspective (past, present and future) - e.g. the history of civilizations, the history of human evolution, the history of the emergence of the various industrial revolutions (just to mention some of the historical perspectives).

Some of these topics already existed before the development of nanoscience an
d nanotechnology. These topics started to gain shape and critical mass with the advances of sciences such as genetics, biomedicine and molecular biology.

Over the past decades with the gradual development of these sciences were also gradually raised ethical questions that gradually began to be the subject of intense debate: Bioethics.

With the development of nanoscience and nanotechnology during the 2000-2010 decade, nanomedicine also raised and was object of development and growth.

Nanomedicine proved to be possible to achieve results that would be impossible to achieve with biomedicine (or at least these results would be achieved more slowly and the success would be more limited). Thus in a way, some of the topics of Bioethics also started to have a "nano" perspective: let's call it Nanobioethics.

On the other hand, nanoscience and nanotechnology brought enormous promises of benefits but also threats. These threats have also been the subject of study and debate on the ethical perspective: let's call it Nanoethics.

The Controversy And The 
Sensitive Nature

The topics and questions raised in Nanobioethics and Nanoethics are usually moral in nature and are therefore controversial. The way they are raised and discussed is delicate.

Even the selection of what topics are of an ethical nature is itself sensitive, controversial and delicate

And as if
 that was not enough, the way these issues are commented and spread to populations is (in a significant percentage of cases) careless, irresponsible and consequently also disastrous.

Some of The Topics on Nanobioethics And Nanoethics

The definition of topics arising from Nanobioethics and Nanoethics differs greatly depending on one’s point of view on the issues involved.

As if that were not enough, the simple grouping of these topics into categories is also controversial because somehow may possibly reflect the personal opinion of whoever sets up the grouping.

I selected a few examples among many. The selection does not reflect any preference from me. Due to reasons of convenience of reading, I tried to group them into thematic categories. The way I grouped the thematic categories do not reflect any personal opinion on these matters. If perhaps the thematic grouping into categories seems inadequate, incorrect, biased or dysfunctional, it only reflects ignorance on my part. Follow the examples I selected (among many), grouped into thematic categories:

The Nano-Fear

This latter aspect that I referred generates in populations what I designate nano-fear, which in turn leads to a bad acceptance of nanoscience and nanotechnology by the populations.

In the background (and in my personal opinion) a vast field of science and technology - as is the case of nanoscience and nanotechnology - that can bring to society an entire immensity of inestimable benefits, eventually becoming bad accepted by a significant percentage of the populations due to the following factors:
  • The risks associated; 
  • All background ​​noise at the level of communication made around this issue. 

And why all this

  • The debate on these matters has not been conducted in all seriousness that it deserves;
  • The poor quality of communication to populations.

The Wise Attitude

Reading what I wrote above and the way I expressed myself, it may seem that I see the ethical approaches as an impediment to the development and advancement of nanoscience and nanotechnology.

No conclusion could be more wrong with regard to this text. On the contrary, many years ago I took a strong awareness that if there are problems on the horizon, the best solution is to face them upfront. Facing problems upfront includes, among several actions, an open, intensive and exhaustive 
discussion on these problems.

It is not hiding the problems under the carpet and drowning out the communication of news that conditions are created for the establishment of a 
"politically correct" climate of "stability and serenity". If at some moments in the history of Mankind this approach seemed to result, in the times we live in today this recipe does not work anymore nor will surely result in the future.

Hiding the truth (or the search for truth) only causes the postponement of finding solutions to solve the problems. Additionally, hiding the truth (or the search for truth) only fuels the most exaggerated and delirious conspiracy theories.

One of the changes that the Internet and the World Wide Web introduced into our society was the game change: populations have much more easy and immediate access to information (and misinformation and counter information as well).

So What is Lacking in Nanobioethics and Nanoethics?

Much of
the discussion on Nanobioethics and Nanoethics are endowed level of excellence: nothing missing.

However, other debates on Ethics still have room for improvement.

If we look at the debates on Ethics as a whole, there is no uniformity in quality: some are conducted with better quality than others.

So what is lacking in Nanobioethics and Nanoethics?
The direct answer to this question in one sentence: all debates on Nanobioethics and Nanoethics must have the level of excellence (and not just part of them).

The Importance of Nanobioethics and Nanoethics

Nanobioethics and Nanoethics are extremely important and necessary for the practice, development, growth and applicability of nanoscience, nanotechnology, nanomedicine, nanobiotechnology and other diverse fields of science and technology that "fit" within the nano-bio convergence in our society.

In my personal opinion, science and technology without Ethics are neither science nor technology. They are something else, another "thing". I cannot think a name for this "thing". It is something that is "practiced", "developed", "grown" and have "applicability" in a manner unsubstantiated, ungoverned and without direction. The consequences tend to be harmful: it leads to dumbing down the populations. Besides, major investments become brutal and obscene spending of funds. In addition, there is no guarantee that real benefits are taken out of it. Science and technology deprived of Ethics can lead to degradation of Life on Earth and can ultimately lead to the extinction of the Human species (as we know it today or to the absolute and total extinction) and eventually lead to the extinction of all life on our planet.

The debates of Nanobioethics and Nanoethics, conducted with a level of excellence, have the ability to beneficially influence the nanoregulation. Saying the same, but in a more accurate way, the debates of Nanobioethics and Nanoethics, if conducted with a level of excellence, have the ability to act as guidelines for the nanoregulation.

I cannot say the same about the debates conducted with a level of quality considered questionable.

When I defend that debates on Nanobioethics and Nanoethics have the ability to beneficially influence the nanoregulation, I need to explain my recommendation based on my personal opinion. It is not acting as a pressure group or a blocking force against regulatory organizations that must be practiced the influence of Nanobioethics and Nanoethics. This influence does not seem to be beneficial. Many organizations, when faced with pressure (or pressure brought to the extreme of the blockade) react in the opposite direction: this it is certainly not a beneficial influence.

Instead, organizations engaged in debates of Nanobioethics and Nanoethics must be partners and interlocutors in a healthy and optimistic 
environment of constructive dialogue, sitting at the same table with nanoregulators, with the aim of working together.

Nanobioethics and Nanoethics help (and help crucially) nanomedicine, nanobiotechnology, nanoscience, nanotechnology and other fields of science that meet the nano-bio convergence to be practiced, developed, grown and find applicability highly beneficial to all society, through a sustainable way.

Can Nanobioethics And Nanoethics be Integrated into the Great Spiral of Sustainability?

Absolutely. Undoubtedly.

I mentioned and explained in numerous previous articles this concept that I have been developing gradually: The Great Spiral of Sustainability.

The great spiral of sustainability has begun, thankfully. It started somewhere, a few years ago. It began shyly. And gradually have been increasing: the spiral of best practices in nanomedicine, nanobiotechnology, nanoscience, nanotechnology and other sciences within the nano-bio convergence. In this spiral of best practices participate players (individuals and organizations) from the most diverse sectors directly or indirectly related to these areas of science and technology: students, researchers, professors, universities, industries, regulatory organizations, education organizations, organizations involved in combating and preventing nanotoxicity and nanopollution ... and also groups and organizations engaged in the debate on Nanobioethics and Nanoethics. Gradually, all these actors come into competition with each other to see who best implements the best practices. This highly healthy competition will gradually bring numerous benefits to science, technology, society, Mankind, all living beings, the environment and our planet.

Luís Bast

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