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Posted: May 22, 2009

Proposal for establishing an Arab Council on Nanotechnology

(Nanowerk News) The expert meeting on ethics of nanotechnologies in the Arab region, organised by Unesco’s Cairo and Doha offices, concluded yesterday with participants calling for creation of an Arab council and to make discussion on the topic a part of international political agenda.
The proposal for establishing an Arab Council on Nanotechnology (ACON) was presented by Al-Quds University’s Mukhles Sowwan while discussing about ‘Nanotechnology and molecular manufacturing: Towards balanced plans for responsible worldwide use.’
“The mission of ACON should be to raise awareness of the benefits and dangers of molecular nanotechnology, and assist in the creation and implementation of comprehensive balanced plans for responsible use of this technology,” he explained. Molecular manufacturing is the building of complex structures by mechanochemical processes and molecular nanotechnology is the ability to construct shapes, devices, and machines with atomic precision, and to combine them into a wide range of products inexpensively.
Referring to the benefits of molecular manufacturing, Sowwan pointed out that it can solve many of the world’s current problems, including providing solutions for water shortage, infectious diseases, and bringing down costs of electrical equipment, and power storage devices.
“However, the risks include unstable arms race on account of horrifically effective weapons, criminal and terrorist use because of small and hard to detect equipment, environmental damage or health risks from unregulated products, black market in molecular nanotechnology, and economic and social problems due to cheap products, inflated prices and change of lifestyle,” the expert said.
Regarding the timeline for molecular manufacturing Sowwan was of the view that it might become a reality by 2015 to 2020 and almost certainly will by 2020 to 2025.
Malsch Techno Valuation (Netherlands) director Ineke Malsch, who spoke on ‘Military and dual use nanotechnologies: perspectives and concerns’, observed that nanotechnology may be applied in weapons of mass destruction as well as high-tech warfare.
“Military and dual use nanotechnology is evaluated differently in different countries,” she pointed out while stating that moral traditions seems to play a role in conflicts but could also be used as basis for common ethical standards. Malsch TechnoValuation is a consultant specialising in assessment of new technologies including nanotechnology, life sciences and other emerging technologies in their societal context.
The company has a track record of international and national collaboration projects and publications with partners throughout Europe and in North and South America and Asia since its foundation in 1999.
“Discussion on the military use of nanotechnology should be put on international political agenda,” Malsch added.
Source: The Gulf Times (Bonnie James)