The University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics issued a report yesterday warning of a looming nano-divide between have and have-not countries. You can read a summary here, or the full report here.
Here is an analysis from CRN Director of Research Chris Phoenix:
The report's authors call for a new international network to assess emerging technologies for development, identify the potential risks and benefits of nanotechnology (NT) incorporating developed and developing world perspectives, and explore the effects of a potential 'nano–divide'.
Such a global network would serve as a focal point to commission and collect research results, promote awareness of the potential applications of NT for development, create new regulatory regimes (or build upon existing ones) for managing NT's risks and promoting global public goods, and provide a forum for all stakeholders – government, industry, academe and citizens groups – not just in developed but also developing countries, whose interests to date have been largely ignored.
Concerns that need consideration include: How long will nanomaterials remain in the environment? How readily will nanomaterials bind to environmental contaminants? Will these particles move up through the food chain and what will be their effect on humans? How will the incorporation of artificial materials into human systems affect health, security and privacy? Who will control the means of production and who will get to debate the risks and benefits? What will be the effects of military and corporate control over NT?