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Posted: July 29, 2009

A beacon or just a landmark? Reflecting on a seminal nanotechnology report

(Nanowerk News) This week marks the fifth anniversary of the publication of the Royal Society/Royal Academy of Engineering report, "Nanotechnology and Nanoscience: Opportunities and Uncertainties".
A landmark report, the publication formed the first comprehensive review of the potential risks of nanotechnology. To mark the five year anniversary SAFENANO has collated some commentary and links to newly available opinion from key players in the field.
In a feature article, SAFENANO's Director Dr Rob Aitken provides a commentary on progress in the field over the last 5 years and asks if our understanding of the issues have really progressed as far it should have.
Aitken recognises some of the many achievements in the last 5 years, highlighting the interdepartmental research co-ordination groups, expert based task groups & ministerial groups established following the reportís publication. He also highlights the series of state of the art reviews published, and increased research funding opportunities, alongside establishment of centres of excellence and activities focussing on knowledge sharing and transfer as positive steps in the development of a full understanding of the issues. However, alongside these developments, Aitken also highlights some of the shortfalls, linking a lack of real progress with a lack of strategically planned funding.
"It is worth reflecting how much progress would have been made if one of the key recommendations of the report, to establish a properly funded interdisciplinary research centre, had been implemented" he comments.
In addition, Prof Anthony Seaton CBE, founding member and chairman of SnIRC and member of the original RS/RAEng working group which developed the report has also provided SAFENANO with his thoughts on the matter in the form of a Guest Blog.
Also marking the occasion is a publication from The Responsible Nano Forum 'A beacon or just a landmark? Reflections on the 2004 RS/RAEng Report'. Hilary Sutcliffe (of the Responsible Nano Forum), and Dr Andrew Maynard (Chief Science Advisor to the Woodrow Wilson Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, and SAFENANO Blogger), invited opinion formers from science, risk, investment, ngos, unions, business and consumer groups to reflect on the legacy of the report and what still remains to be done. The report features over 25 contributions from a range of stakeholder groups in the UK and internationally. The Foreward is written by Andrew Maynard and in its Introduction Hilary Sutcliffe draws lessons from the report and from the last five years which may be relevant for the development of future emerging technologies.
The paper, in which Dr Aitken and Dr Seaton's commentaries are included, is available on Responsible Nano Forum, and is accessible here.
Source: Safenano

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