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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).



Preface

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.



Introduction

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
?

Because:
  • 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
os



Sunday, 14 October 2012

One Nanoregulation


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




Preface


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.


Introduction

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




Preface

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.


Introduction

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?

No.

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.

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.



Saturday, 22 September 2012

Why Nanoregulation Must be a Top Priority on Political Agendas



... of ALL COUNTRIES




Preface

Following the alignment of my article "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 article is dedicated to nanoregulation. I'll try to do my best to point and suggest paths for the future, with regard to nanoregulation. 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.



Introduction

Nanoregulation is already underway. Obviously those differences at the level of attitudes are abyssal, when making a comparison between different Countries:
  • A minority of  pioneer Countries are already working at full speed;
  • The majority of Countries is divided into two groups:
    • The Countries that are waiting for the pioneering Countries in pursuing nanoregulation, so that they may decide to imitate them or affirm themselves by the difference;
    • The Countries that are fully asleep, regarding nanoregulation; never heard of such a thing or if heard, it is a low-priority issue on their political agendas.


What Nanoregulation has to do With Priority on The 
Political Agendas of All Countries?

An interesting question. Though this question sounds simple, an appropriate and 
quite enlightening response is complex. I'll try to do my best to be clear and at the same time correct and synthetic.

There are several reasons. I'm going to address the ones I consider more critical.


01. Nanopollution

Problem: Humans and the environment spread nanoparticles to the entire Biosphere.

As I explained in my article "Nanopollution Revised", nanoparticles are p
resent:
  • In the air (atmosphere);
  • In water (hydrosphere)
  • In the soil (lithosphere).

They are thus gathered all the requirements necessary for the entire biosphere being contaminated with presence of nanoparticles. It can therefore be said that the nanoparticles tend to be
 ubiquitous.
Just as an example, nanoparticles that are present in the air (atmosphere):
  • Mix well with the humidity in the air. As a consequence, when precipitation occurs (e.g. rain, sleet and snow) this gets contaminated with nanoparticles. The precipitation reaches the soil and open water (e.g. oceans, seas, rivers, lakes);
  • Contaminate drinking water exposed to air;
  • Contaminate open water (e.g. oceans, rivers, streams, lakes);
  • Contaminate the surface of the soils;
  • Contaminate the groundwater through infiltration;
  • Contaminate the inner part of soils (trough groundwater);
  • Enter into the plants through their aerial components (involved in the process of photosynthesis, respiration and transpiration);
  • Enter into the animals through respiration, eyes, skin, etc.;
  • Contaminate foods exposed to air.


Again, just as an example, nanoparticles that are present in the water (hydrosphere):
  • Return to the air (atmosphere), ascending together with the water vapour during the evaporation process of water;
  • Are absorbed by the roots of aquatic plants, entering this way into these;
  • Enter into the aquatic, underwater, marine animals as well as amphibians;
  • Contaminate food during washing with water (supposedly drinking water);
  • Contaminate food during the cooking process, when water is used (presumably drinking water).


Once again, and just as a third example, n
anoparticles present in soils:
  • Return to the air (atmosphere), ascending together with the water vapour during the evaporation process of water;
  • Are absorbed by the roots of terrestrial plants, entering this way into these;
  • Enter into the underground and terrestrial animals; 
  • Contaminate groundwater.


On the other hand, nanoparticles present into plants and animals traverse the entire food chain until reach Humans.

Fact: Countries in general occupy the entire (or almost all) of the surface of the lithosphere (nanopolluted) of the planet Earth. Due to reasons of sovereignty, most countries hold territorial waters (hydrosphere, nanopolluted, by the way) and airspace (atmosphere, also nanopolluted, by the way).

Therefore, it starts to become quite clear that nanopollution affects ALL Countries 
of planet Earth.

By consequence, it is also clearly explained why the regulation has to do (a lot) with the priorities defined in the policy agendas of all countries.

The pollution itself is a 
reason more than enough to justify the engagement of ALL countries in the nanoregulation


02. Nanotoxicity

Therefore, since nanoparticles are present into the entire environment (which includes ALL COUNTRIES) these easily enter into the Human body of ALL POPULATIONS OF ALL COUNTRIES.

Nanotoxicity and nanotoxicology are highly complex subjects. It falls out of my objective a full coverage of this topic on this article. I will address two only:
  • Routes for entry of nanotoxic nanoengineered nanoparticles into the Human body;
  • Destinations of nanotoxic nanoengineered nanoparticles, after entering the Human body.

Regarding the routes for entry of nanotoxic nanoengineered nanoparticles into the Human body, as I explained in my article "Nanotoxicity in Humans", in general terms, nanotoxic nanoengineered nanoparticles may enter into the human body via different routes. This entry of nanotoxic nanoengineered nanoparticles into the Hyman body happens through episodes usually incidental and/or involuntary. For example, Humans may:
  • Inspire accidentally and/or involuntarily air (previously contaminated with nanotoxic nanoengineered nanoparticles);
  • Absorb casually and/or involuntarily through their skin (through the skin breathing process) air (previously contaminated with nanotoxic nanoengineered nanoparticles);
  • Absorb accidentally and/or involuntarily, through the eyes, air, raindrops
    dew droplets, droplets humidity or water vapour 
    or other impurities (previously contaminated with nanotoxic nanoengineered nanoparticles);
  • Accidentally and/or involuntarily eat food (previously contaminated with toxic nanoengineered particles);
  • Drinking accidentally and/or involuntarily, water (supposedly drinking water) and consumption beverages (previously contaminated with nanotoxic nanoengineered nanoparticles).

These incidental and/or involuntary episodes are associated with a lack of knowledge, information, awareness and nanoeducation by populations of ALL COUNTRIES. Therefore, through episodes of incidental and/or involuntary nature, the nanoparticles can enter the Human body via (not necessarily by this order):

  • Inhalation;
  • Cutaneous and eyes;
  • Ingestion;
  • Other.

Regarding the destinations of nanotoxic nanoengineered nanoparticles, after entering the Human body, these can undergo different fates:
  • Can be totally or partially excreted;
  • Can be totally or partially metabolized;
  • Can be totally or partially cumulated into cells, tissues and organs.

Regarding excretion, follow some different examples of excretion of nanoengineered nanoparticles:
  • Through the kidneys, during the blood filtration in which the nanotoxic nanoengineered nanoparticles are to be a product of excretion (a constituent of the urine);
  • Through the intestines, during the formation of faeces and excreted through the anus;
  • Through the sweat glands in order to be excreted in sweat during perspiration;
  • Through the lungs (after venous blood having executed gas exchanges with the lung alveoli) being released into the environment during the exhalation.

In what concerns to metabolism, follow two examples of where nanotoxic nanoengineered nanoparticles can be metabolized:
  • In the liver; 
  • In the spleen.

Regarding total or partial bioaccumulation into cells, tissues and organs, 
nanotoxic nanoengineered nanoparticles which are insoluble or poorly soluble in biological fluids are of great concern in terms of public health:

  1. Some nanotoxic nanoengineered nano particles which are insoluble or of low solubility can pass through the various defence mechanisms of the body. Thus, these nanotoxic nanoengineered nanoparticles which are insoluble or low solubility can be transported along the human body in an insoluble form: passing into the blood stream (blood and/or lymphatic vessels) after passing through the respiratory membranes (lung alveoli via gas exchanges) and/or gastrointestinal membranes. These nanotoxic nanoengineered nanoparticles which are insoluble or low solubility are then distributed to the various organs and eventually may accumulate at specific sites.
  2. Other nanotoxic nanoengineered nanoparticles which are insoluble or poorly soluble can still find a direct link to the brain: after they are inhaled, they can travel through the olfactory nerves and penetrate directly into brain neurons.


As a consequence of what I explained above, it is easy to conclude that nanotoxicity is or should be a concern of ALL COUNTRIES.



03. Nanobiopharmaceuticals

Pharmaceuticals, biopharmaceuticals and nanobiopharmaceuticals are allowed to enter into the commercial channels after approval by regulatory authorities.

As a rule base, it can be stated that the regulatory authorities have as jurisdiction territory the Country where they belong. In other words, regulatory authorities operate in their own country and only in their own country.

As far as I know, there may be regional agreements in Organizations of Countries regarding some aspects of regulation.

If a pharmaceutical, for example, is approved in one country A, this fact does not necessarily imply that other country B adopts the introduction into their commercial channels, just because it was approved in the country A.


This general concept, described to pharmaceuticals, also applies to biopharmaceuticals and nanobiopharmaceuticals.

Since the nanomedicine is relatively new, these nanobiopharmaceutica
ls are also relatively new. They present a whole series of challenges in terms of legislation and regulation to the diverse regulatory authorities of ALL COUNTRIES around the globe. Most of these Countries are not yet ready to face these challenges, but one day will be.

This is therefore a reason per se more than sufficient to justify that ALL COUNTRIES include the nanoregulation subject as a top priority in their political agendas.


04. Nanoengineer
ed Nanoparticles Present in Consumer Goods

As I explained in my article "Nanoengineered Nanoparticles in Consumer Goods", there are consumer goods being sold as commercial products containing nanoengineered nanoparticles in their composition.

As we can naturally imagine, the trade relations between countries are highly dynamic:

  • New business relationships are always flourishing among the most diverse and distant countries;
  • Import and export flows are developed or are changed;
  • New distribution networks and channels are constantly created, so that a good produced in a country can be sold in other countries across the globe.

I want to emphasize that this dynamics also covers consumer goods being sold as commercial products containing nanoengineered nanoparticles in their composition.

These consumer goods are divided into several categories, regarding the use that consumers give them and the intended purpose. Nevertheless, there is a group of consumer goods already released into the commercial channels, which has been a particular target of debate: cosmetics, sunscreens and personal care products. Follow some examples: deodorants, soaps, toothpastes, shampoos, hair conditioners, sunscreens, anti-wrinkle creams, lipsticks, blushes, eye shadows, nail polishes, perfumes and after-shave lotions (just to mention a few).

Regarding the possible beneficial, harmless or nanotoxic effects of these nanoparticles to consumers, the information available to consumers is, in some cases, none, a bit vague or enlightening.

Personally, I am convinced of the presence of nanoengineered particles in consumer goods is not necessarily harmful, as was published in the sensationalist and non-specialized press.

I even admit that:

  • A significant percentage of (or even most) of these manufacturers have performed quality and safety tests into their laboratories, in order to determine the beneficial, harmless or nanotoxic effects of these nanoengineered nanoparticles and the results have confirmed that they were safe;
  • A significant percentage (or even most) of these manufacturers have hired independent external laboratories (outsourcing) to perform laboratory tests in order to  determine the beneficial, harmless or nanotoxic effects of these nanoengineered nanoparticles and the results have confirmed that they were safe.

However, given (a) the enlightening information (or absent) provided to consumers about the nanosafety of these nanoengineered particles in some consumer goods and given (b) the background noise made ​​by some sensationalist and not specialized media, the atmosphere of suspicion and fear was gradually settling into a few layers of populations.

Therefore, h
ow consumers can rely on the results of laboratory tests? How can consumers trust the quality of these products?
In my personal opinion, there is only one answer: nanoregulation.

As we can naturally imagine, the trade relations between countries are highly dynamic:

  • New business relationships are always flourishing among the most diverse and distant countries;
  • Import and export flows are developed or are changed;
  • New distribution networks and channels are constantly created, so that a good produced in a country can be sold in other countries across the globe.


Is therefore once again demonstrated ALL COUNTRIES must include nanoregulation as a top priority on their political agendas, with the objective of putting some order regarding this subject of the presence of nanoparticles into consumer goods.


Again, The Great Spiral of Sustainability (Now With ALL COUNTRIES Involved)

As I described in several pprevious articles, there is a phenomenon that has already been triggered - it's what I call "the great spiral of sustainability". Entities, organizations and players (in the world of nanotechnology, science, science-related, academia, industries) already started to compete with each other to see which is the one that applies and implements the best of the practices. Now, whith the advice I presented in this article - nanoregulation must be a top Priority on political agendas of ALL COUNTRIES - Countries will start to compete with each other to see which is going to develop the best nanoregulation.

In fact, this competition already started. In other words, some Countries have already joined (even without taking aware of it) to the big spiral of sustainability.

Again, this whole competition of best practices is highly positive and beneficial to the entire world.


Conclusion

I could have presented a lot more reasons for 
ALL COUNTRIES include nanoregulation as a top priority on their political agendas. However, I am absolutely sure that the four topics I presented above fully justify it.

The Countries that are waiting for the pioneer Countries in nanoregulation to proceed further (in order that they can then decide to imitate them or affirm themselves by the difference) don't need to do it. They can change of attitude and be proactive - by starting their own home work.

The Countries that are fully asleep in what regards nanoregulation can also change their attitude. They can start to be proactive - by starting their own home work.

Besides, there is a world trend to let it happen.



Thursday, 6 September 2012

Nanoeducation 3.0



When the standard answer to this common question would become "what I want to be when I grow up? An astronaut? No! I want to be a nanoscientist. This is more cool!", then, on that day, much of what I proposed in this article already materialized.





Preface


Following the alignment of my article "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:

Therefore, as I referred above, this article is dedicated to nanoeducation. I'll try to make here a brief diagnosis of the current state of nanoeducation, identify what is right and what needs improvement and propose solutions.


Introduction

Only with the aim of illustrate how the world in general perceives what is nanoeducation, I present here a definition or description of 
Nanotechnology education.


Nanoeducation 1.0

Nanoeducation started to be something very close to the definition or description I presented above. 
It is common practice perceiving nanoeducation as a set of academic  programmes (e.g. courses, degrees, masters, PhDs, post docs, e-learning programmes, summer schools) oriented to nanoscientists or scientists and engineers from various fields of science and technology who are interested in advancing their personal career and to enrich their personal curriculum vitae for future professional challenges. Generally, these academic programmes aim to provide the most complete and reliable information on current developments in nanoscience and nanotechnology.

This is in fact nanoeducation. More precisely, this is just a tiny part of education (according to my personal opinion, I might add).


The definition or description of Nanotechnology education I presented illustrates my point.

This concept of nanoeducation is what I denominate "Nanoeducation 1.0".


Nanoeducation 2.0

Having been established what I termed "Nanoeducation 1.0", some organizations have begun to make additional serious efforts towards diversification, coverage of a wider range of target audiences and to go further.

In the meantime, the academic programmes (as I referred in Nanoeducation 1.0) multiplied, grew in quality, specificity and degree of specialization. Today we have a wide range of very good offers in the field of academic programmes, many of them with a level of excellence. Target audiences: nanoscientists or scientists and engineers from various fields of science and technology who are interested in developing their personal career, improving this way their personal curriculum vitae to become suitable for future professional challenges.

Therefore, nanoe
ducation moved up a level: it moved up from what I termed "Nanoeducation 1.0" to what I call "Nanoeducation 2.0"nanoeducation programmes more mature, complemented by initiatives and actions aiming diversification (coverage of a wider range of target audiences).

Follow some examples (among many):
  • Organization of open days (for society), promoted by Universities and research institutions. Public in general and children, adolescents and young students from schools that organize study visits have opportunity to interact directly with nanoscientists and actively participate in simple and didactic experiments, handle some equipment, etc. Target audiences:
      • General public;
      • Pre-teens;
      • Teens;
      • Youth;
  • Promotion of other programmes (not academic), initiatives and activities aiming to reach other segments of target audiences. Examples: partnerships with science museums and schools. Target audiences:
      • Citizens who visit science museums;
      • Children, adolescents and young students from schools that organize study visits to science museums;
  • Setting up nanoeducation networks, working in a commitment to boost local partnerships between R&D and science education organizations in order to teach the general public, pre-teens, teens and youth about nanoscience, potential applications and impacts and additionally to get them to think about these subjects. Target audiences:
    • General public;
    • Pre-teens;
    • Teens;
    • Youth;
  • Organization of educational events dedicated to children, with the aim of familiarizing them with the basic principles of nanoscience and nanotechnology. As an example, during these events are presented to children basic concepts and made available to them buckyball toys, Lego® bricks to build models of nanosized structures, etc. target audience: children;
  • Creation of portals in the World Wide Web and other web platforms (e.g. social networks) with the aim of releases, on an educational context, the basic concepts of nanoscience and nanotechnology and some important aspects, such as the various applications, benefits and risks. Target audiences (note: these target audiences depend strongly on the Search Engine Optimization and/or the management of the presence in social networks):
    • General public;
    • Public who is enthusiastic in matters of science and technology;

In my personal opinion and according to the concepts that I presented and will present in this article, the current nanoeducation is on the level of what I call Nanoeducation 2.0.


Nanoeducation 3.0

Nanoeducation 3.0 is a concept that I propose here. In other words, Nanoeducation 3.0 is a model of reinvention of nanoeducation proposed here.

Nanoeducation reinvented.

Really? And why nanoeducation needs to be reinvented?

Because nanoeducation has been undervalued. I would say highly undervalued. Today the perception of nanoeducation is wrong, distorted, disjointed and dysfunctional.

Despite the academic programs of high quality available all over the world (nanoeducation 1.0 and nanoeducation 2.0), despite the highly meritorious and professional efforts to diversify and reach other target audiences (Nanoeducation 2.0), there is still much to do and much target audience to reach.


As I pointed in my article "The Roots of Nano-Fear Decoded", finally, what we have now?
  1. We have on the one hand, a remarkable progress in nanoscience and nanotechnology, which has been welcome, or at least reasonably recognized by the scientific community, industry and other players;
  2. On the other hand, we have citizens who adopt an attitude of distrust, suspicion, scepticism and fear, in the face of communication of advances in nanoscience and nanotechnology;
  3. And we also have a third group of individuals who have not yet formed a consolidated opinion.

The second and third groups are highly diversified in terms of target audiences. The third group includes individuals who never heard absolutely nothing related to "nano".

These target audiences are as diverse as one can imagine or even more:
  • Different age groups:
    • Pre-adolescent;
    • Adolescent;
    • Young people;
    • Adults;
    • Aged people;
  • Different types of professions (or unemployment), such as (just to mention a few):
    • Regulators;
    • Professionals in the field of innovation, entrepreneurship and technology transfer;
    • Patent attorneys;
    • Lawyers and jurists;
    • Stakeholders and investors;
    • Financial managers, economists, key account managers, accountants;
    • Environmentalists;
    • Psychologists and psychoanalysts;
    • Geographers;
    • Meteorologists;
    • Historians;
    • Translators;
    • Writers; novelists; poets;
    • Journalists; communication professionals and media professionals in general;
    • Professional athletes;
    • Military professionals; police professionals; security professionals;
    • Politicians;
  • Different positions in the hierarchy of leadership within organizations, such as (just to mention a few):
    • Top managers;
    • Chiefs interim;
    • Staff;
  • Different types of unemployed individuals:
    • Short term, medium-term; long-term  unemployed individuals and unemployed individuals with early retirement;
    • Young, adult and older unemployed individuals;
    • Unemployed individuals without responsibilities of sustenance of their Family; unemployed individuals with responsibilities of sustenance of their Family;
    • Unemployed individuals with large financial resources;  unemployed individuals living in extreme poverty;
    • Unemployed individuals with academic education; unemployed individuals without academic education;
    • Unemployed individuals living in rich countries, unemployed individuals living in poor countries;
    • Unemployed individuals living in countries in peace; unemployed individuals living in countries at war;
  • Different academic backgrounds;
  • Different levels of literacy (high, medium and low level of literacy);
  • Different permeabilities of the tabloid press of dubious quality;
  • Different cultures and religions;
  • Different countries (each with their own realities that distinguish them from others).

Nanoeducation must also be perceived as a vehicle to communicate with the entire world. It is necessary to take the entire world as the biggest audience and divide it in several segments, sub-segments and niches of target-audiences.

There is an urgent need of implementing several nanoeducation programmes, each customized to a specific target audience (just a few examples described above), using the right and appropriate language to each target audience.

It is required an entire apparel of communication operating according with the following guidelines:
  • Communication must be absolutely transparent. Hiding sensitive topics purposely never worked. The same way it will not result in nanoeducation: always the truth, transparency and credibility;
  • Different target audiences must meet different and appropriate (a) approaches, (b) different ​​and appropriate contextual languages and (c) different and appropriate educational content. However, in all or in most cases, the benefits and risks must always be addressed. In all cases the truth and transparency ​​must be considered sacred values;
  • Communication must be organized by countries. For countries with a diverse culture, it must be organized by regions and sub-regions within the same country. Particular care should be taken regarding:
    • The local dialects;
    • Religious values;
  • The local infrastructure and should be prepared in accordance with the auxiliary means of communication and educational to be used.

Since these target audiences are scattered all over the world, the cultural and language barriers (among many other barriers) are a fact. Therefore, trainers/educators must include the following features on their profile:
  • Must be local professionals;
  • Must be accredited professionals
  • Must speak the right and proper approach directed to the target audience;
  • Must speak the same local idiom/language;
  • Must use presentation methods and auxiliary educational tools (slide shares, videos, electronic guides, printed guides, books, brochures, etc.) correctly translated into the idiom/language spoken locally;
  • Must be prepared for the most unexpected questions that may arise and know how to respond properly, in a transparent, honest and credible way.


Nanoeducation 3.0 Concept versus Reinventing Nanoeducation

At this point it is important to highlight the following. I defend (as well as I can) the reinvention of nanoeducation according to a model that I propose (in this case, what I call Nanoeducation 3.0). Below, I present benefits of the adoption of my concept, followed by risks inherent to the not adoption my concept. However, if the reinvention of nanoeducation is implemented, not following my concept, but somehow close to it (even if the designation and some aspects are ignored or modified), the result is very positive for me. What I really consider important is the (good) reinvention on nanoeducation. It is that all that matters.


The Benefits of Implementing The Nanoeducation 3.0 Concept

Nanoeducation should never ever be undervalued. Neither the concept of Nanoeducation 3.0 should ever be underestimated.

The benefits of a Nanoeducation 3.0, as I propose here, with a level of excellence as a whole and its various parts are immense, vast, broad and crucial:

  • The Nanoeducation 3.0 concept will fill a wide range of gaps in the framework of the entire nanotechnology and its acceptance in society;
  • The Nanoeducation 3.0 concept will play a complementary role that is tremendously important. This complementary role is tremendously important to help establishing and consolidating a balance of harmony so necessary within the framework of various aspects of nanotechnology: R&D, nanoregulation, risk assessment, risk management, implementation a culture and mindset of best practices, the combat and prevention of nanopollution and nanotoxicity;
  • And finally, I have kept to the end what I personally consider the greatest benefit of implementing the Nanoeducation 3.0 concept: the Great Spiral of Sustainability. The Great Spiral of Sustainability will be strengthened tremendously and gain greater momentum. Many steps, initiatives and actions have been put into practice with regard to nanoeducation, improving it, its strengthening, increasing the offer (both in quality and quantity), increasing the range of new and more diversified target audiences. This is an undeniable fact. But ... much more is needed. There is still much hard work to be done. And this is also an irrefutable fact. There is here a highly important aspect that I consider never be too much to highlight. As I explained in my articles "A World Without Nanotoxicity" and "Fighting & Preventing Nanopollution", there is a whole vast and diversified chain of players, individuals and organizations related to nanoscience, nanotechnology, nanomedicine, life science, physics, chemistry - just to name a few - and science in general. I don’t mean the academia, the industry and the scientific community only. It is a complex and intricate chain of players. The implementation of a culture of best practice has already been triggered in some link somewhere within this complex and intricate chain of players, individuals and organizations. I have already observed this several times. It is extremely important that this culture of best practices (who still lives in his childhood) is strategically maintained and enhanced in order to have a strong impact on our society. Once this culture of best practices earns social impact, it will generate a kind of chain reaction along the entire whole, vast and diversified chain of actors, individuals and organizations. This chain reaction will generate a highly positive effect that will gradually increase awareness in all subjects and actors in this chain. In the case of this concept of nanoeducation 3.0. is implemented sometime in the future (and I admit the possibility of being in the near future), this concept will mix throughout the referred chain reaction. We will see players competing against each other to see who implements the "best of the best practices" even at level of nanoeducation. This unstoppable and dynamic competition will be and highly beneficial to strengthen and implement a range of best practices, ranging from nanoeducation reinvented to an effective combat and prevention of nanopollution and nanotoxicity. Our civilization will benefit greatly from this great spiral of sustainability.

The benefits of implementing the concept of Nanoeducation 3.0 seem to be below the expectations? Well, wait till you read the risks of not implementing this concept.


The Risks of Not Implemen
ting The Nanoeducation 3.0 Concept

In my opinion, however, this is far from happening. A world population with a wrong, distorted or dysfunctional perception of nanotechnology and of the benefits and risks that nanotechnology can bring to our society (in the present, in the near future and in the medium and long term) may simply result in the decline of the entire nanotechnology.

If nanotechnology declines, the consequence is simply a disaster. Just a sample (negligibly small) of elucidative examples:
  • No truly effective solutions to water desalination, and as a consequence, to obtain purified drinking water available at a cheap price for the entire world population;
  • No significant progress in medical, biomedical, pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical sciences;
  • No truly effective solutions for obtaining clean energy sources, environmentally friendly, renewable, available at cheap prices for the entire world population (the world will remain dependent on fossil fuels with all the consequences that we know);
  • Decline in the fight to improve the environment of our planet (decline of environmental remediation applications);
  • No quantum computing and the immense and diversified solutions it can provide to our world as we know it;
  • Decline of big data management;
  • Decline of the mobile communications industry;
  • Decline of the semiconductors and semiconductor devices industry;
  • Decline of the electronics industry;
  • Decline of the displays industry;
  • Decline of the aerospace industry;
  • Decline of the automotive industry;
  • Decline of transportation applications;
  • Decline of the steel industry;
  • Decline of the glass industry;
  • Decline of the coatings industry;
  • Decline of the construction industry;
  • Decline of the disinfectants industry;
  • Decline of security industry;
  • Decline of fire protection and detection;
  • Decline of household appliances;
  • Decline of printing industry;
  • End of intelligent and functional clothing.

The crisis the world is currently experiencing will be nothing when compared to the crisis caused by a decline of nanotechnology (if it happens).


Final Comments

In case of this concept or something similar became implemented, what indicators do the experts have available to monitor the ongoing process of implementation? Well, there are many metrics.


However, there will be a qualitative signal that tells everything or at least almost everything.

It is common to ask pre-teens something like "What would you like to be when you grow up? An astronaut?"

When the standard answer to this common question would become "what I want to be when I grow up? An astronaut? No! I want to be a nanoscientist. This is more cool!", then, on that day, much of what I proposed in this article already materialized.


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