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

Sunday, 14 October 2012

One Nanoregulation

... at least for combating and preventing nanopollution and nanotoxicity.


Advancing along the series of articles I have made ​​dedicated to "The Roots of Nano-Fear Decoded", I have pointed briefly which are the main roots of nano-fear (or at least some of them). Some of them have already been addressed in subsequent articles published by me in NanoMedRev Blog:

This one more article I wrote about nanoregulation and the way I envision it must reposition to meet the challenges of the future. Again, m
y goal in this article is to contribute to make nanoregulation a real legal instrument to be used to its full potential by ALL Countries, thereby contributing to a better world for ourselves and our descendants.


I advocate that nanoregulation must be unique.

Put this way, this point of view seems silly and sounds like an unreasonable thing. Therefore, I have to explain and develop my idea.

I recognize that recommending that nanoregulation must be unique in the entire world is at least controversial.

There is a whole diversity of Countries, each with their own features that give them their own identity and differentiate them from all others. This is about culture, nationality, independence, sovereignty, nation, people, identity, national pride, and many other values ​​that any Country hardly (or, better saying, never) abdicates. Therefore any unification of regulation (even in the nanoscience and nanotechnology field) is and will always be controversial.

But its implementation is not impossible. Better saying, its implementation is possible.

The Engagement of ALL Countries

I advocate that ALL Countries must urgently include nanoregulation in their political agendas.

When I explained "Why Nanoregulation Must be a Top Priority on Political Agendas"this was the idea that I advocated.

My goal is that every Cou
ntry in the world must be, over time, developing (at a first stage) and implementing (at a later stage) nanoregulation.

Nanoregulation covers numerous and diverse areas of intervention. Follow just a few, among many examples:

Fields of Nanoregulation Common to ALL Countries

Moreover, the world is facing problems and threats that are common to ALL Countries. Following the alignment of the thematic scope of this article, I refer to:

  • Combating and preventing nanopollution;
  • Combating and preventing nanotoxicity.

On the other hand, I recognize that unifying these regulations in all their diverse fields are beyond controversial, a highly complex task (e.g. nanobiopharmaceuticals and nanoengineered nanoparticles in consumer goods).

Thus, what do I propose after all?

I propose that nanoregulation must be unique for ALL Countries at least in these two fields:

  • Combating and preventing nanopollution;
  • Combating and preventing nanotoxicity.

What Does Unique Mean in This Thematic Context?

In other words, what do I mean by unique?

There must be a worldwide organization with global legitimacy and mandate to exercise global uniformity or standardization of the various nanoregulations developed by ALL the different Countries, prior to its domestic implementation. This global uniformity or standardization of the various nanoregulations developed by ALL the different Countries, must cover, at least, the following fields: (a) combating and preventing nanopollution; (b) combating and preventing nanotoxicity.

Luís Bastos

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Nanoregulation For The Future

Fully innovative, collaborative and proactive


I've been writing a series of articles, all having something in common: "The Roots of Nano-Fear Decoded". I have addressed briefly some of the main roots of nano-fear:

Again, like the previous one, this article is dedicated to nanoregulation. I 
point strategic advice for the future of nanoregulation. Once again, my goal in this article is to contribute to the nanoregulation to become a real legal instrument to be used to its full potential by ALL countries, thereby contributing to a better world for ourselves, our children, our grandchildren and so on. As always, I'll try to do my best.


Nanoregulation, to be prepared to meet the challenges of the future, must have certain characteristics:
  • Nanoregulation must be fully innovative and collaborative;
  • Nanoregulation must be proactive.

Nanoregulation Must be Fully Innovative And Collaborative

Nanoregulation must be fully innovative. Well, some already are by now. In my personal opinion, FDA already is fully innovative. However, this concept must spread to all countries and country regions. Gone are the days when the regulation concerning the scientific and technological aspects and its relationship with society had chances to progress without considering innovation a priority.

Not anymore.

We live in times of reinvention. Any project that is born must have a component of innovation. This rule becomes more rigi
d for large scale projects. This is the case with nanoregulation, the way as I address it in my articles.

Innovation involves doing something really new, something that has never been done before and proven better. To innovate implies an entire change of mindsets, attitudes, behaviours and processes.

Are these requirements that I just described sufficient?


Nowadays any major project goes far way only doing something really new, that has never been done before, demonstrably better, as a result of a total change of mindsets, attitudes, behaviours and processes.

What is missing then that is so vital to enabling innovation and let it go far away, fly high and bring forth good fruit? 

Collaboration is the key. Collaboration is the name of the game. In the times we live in, there is no innovation without collaboration. It's as simple as that: collaborative innovation.

Therefore, back to the approach to nanoregulation, 
nanoregulation needs to be really innovative in a way that has never been done before and demonstrably better for building a better world for US ALL. An innovative nanoregulation must involve a profound change of mentalities, attitudes, behaviours and processes. But, above all, innovative nanoregulation must be based on the concept of collaborative innovation.

Nanoregulation Must be Proactive

Nanoregulation must be proactive. Nanoregulation must not adopt a passive attitude: waiting for the emerging of issues and problems and then solve them. In other words, nanoregulatory entities reacting to face new situations that had just earned critical mass is not enough.

On the contrary, nanoregulation must anticipate emerging situations. To implement this concept, nanoregulatory authorities must develop mechanisms of permanent monitoring of what is being done, what is happening, reporting emergent situations when these have not yet gained critical mass or expression. Nanoregulators must be open to sharing experiences and opinions of various professionals from various sectors of industry, consumers, users, patients and organizations related to ethics.

Acting this way, when some of these emerging situations gain critical mass, the nanoregulation organizations have already developed work, including debate, opinion listening, sharing professional experiences, all in the context of collaborative innovation such as described above. In other words: when some of these emerging situations gain critical mass, the nanoregulation organizations are already prepared to face them. This way, the solution comes faster and better.

To suggest and give strategic advice is very interesting, but if one does not reach more detailed explanations, the value fades out

Therefore, due to this reason, I will point as examples two specific situations: combat and prevention of nanopollution and nanotoxicity.
Regarding the combat and prevention of nanopollution, on my article "Fighting & Preventing Nanopollution", I proposed the creation of a network of nanopollution observatories: observatories operated by highly qualified professionals, equipped with sophisticated computer technology, databases, GPS technology and operating with the aid of satellites. These observatories must be linked to external probes and sensors placed at critical locations, providing these observatories with real-time data. Therefore, these nanopollution observatories will operate with real-time risk monitoring, risk detection and risk assessment. This modus operandi will allow the ability to send automatic warnings (or alerts) to the operating teams. The automatic warnings (or alerts) may be scaled in warning (or alert) levels, linked to pre-established protocols of measures to be triggered accordingly - all these observatories linked on a whole network.

Regarding the combat and prevention of nanotoxicity, on my article "A World Without Nanotoxicity", I proposed the creation of a network of screening centres. These screening centres must operate at full sync and collaboration among themselves and with the nanopollution observatories. These screening centres must be operated by highly qualified professionals, equipped with sophisticated computer technology and databases, receiving constantly reported data from R&D facilities (academic and industry) as new discovered, engineered or already known nanosized molecular structures are nanofabricated, engineered or employed. This modus operandi, as I described, will allow the ability to send automatic warnings (or alerts) to the operating teams. The automatic warnings (or alerts) may be scaled in warning (or alert) levels, linked to pre-established protocols of measures to be triggered accordingly.

Thus, both nanopollution observatories and screening centres, operating in full articulation and collaboration among them and with nanoregulatory organizations will provide a precious help nanoregulation to be proactive.

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