The Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (Mistra) on Wednesday officially launched its new research book Beyond Imagine: The Ethics and Applications of Nanotechnology and Bio-Economics, in Pretoria.
The book looks at countries like India, where nanotechnology is being supported as a source of income and innovation. It also recognises the technology’s potential to improve both the human condition and a country’s productivity and competitiveness.
It also discusses whether South Africa is doing what it should and could to foster similar nanotechnology advances within the country.
“Bio- and nanotechnologies are the most eminent emerging technologies and there are indications that they can immensely improve the human condition,” Mistra executive director
Joel Netshitenzhe said at the launch.
He added that the book assessed the progress that South Africa has made and the lessons the country could learn from international experiences.
This, he pointed out, was outlined in relevant national strategies and programmes that seek to use technologies to drive research and development, develop human resources, encourage innovative entrepreneurship and enhance human health.
“The authors argue that the application of nanotechnology should be accompanied by an appreciation of nanotoxicity and nanoethics. Similarly, biotechnology should factor in bioethics and the dangers of genetic modification,” he said.
Netshitenzhe suggested that African countries should pool their resources to develop these sectors, noting that this applied to the orientation of the research to ensure that it addresses the needs of the majority.
“It relates to the role of the private sector, and the global partnerships that developing countries can forge. We also need to develop a core of skilled personnel that can work with international partners. The experiences of countries such as India, can stand us in good stead,” he said.
He added that the concept of public communication of science needed to be implemented more systematically, so that society could fully appreciate the benefits of and danger that these technologies present.
“Mistra acknowledges that the book is only exploratory. Because of the fledgling nature of these technologies and the depth and breadth of their reach, our ambition is largely to lay the basis for further reflection in these issues,” he said.
Source : http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/mistra-launches-new-book-on-the-ethics-applications-of-nanotechnology-2018-04-11423