3.2.2 Italian nanobioethics debate drowned by confrontation secularists and catholics
Current issues in nanobioethics
Interview with Prof. Dr. Luca Marini, Italy
Ineke Malsch, email@example.com 28 December 2009
Even though there has been a public and stakeholder debate on nanobioethics in Italy for several years, this discussion is not very visible on an international level. In this interview, Professor Luca Marini gives some insight in the characteristics of the Italian nanobioethics-scene, and in the key issues to resolve. He is a key organiser of this debate. In 2002, Professor Marini took the initiative for a working group of the Italian National Bioethics Committee on nanosciences and nanotechnology. This group produced an opinion on ethical aspects of nanotechnology in 2006. As president of Center for Biojuridical Studies “ECSEL”, Professor Marini has promoted, organised and realized several events discussing ethics of nanotechnology, converging technologies and other new technologies.
Under the header of Nanobioethics, ObservatoryNano aims to highlight technological and economic trends in nanotechnology for health, medical, biotechnological and agrifood applications with potential ethical and social implications. Simultaneously, current debates on relevant issues in nanobioethics among ethicists and social scientists, policy making circles and stakeholders are analysed and confronted with the issues emerging from the technical and economic trends. This way, emerging issues not discussed sufficiently can be identified and brought to the attention of policy makers in the second annual report on nanobio ethics to be published online in the spring of 2010. The series of interviews with opinion leaders is intended to be a compilation of different views on the relevant issues currently in debate from different perspectives of social scientists, ethicists, natural scientists, and stakeholders from industry and civil society.
Ineke Malsch: What are the main issues in nanobioethics currently in debate in Italy in your view? Why are these issues the main issues?
Luca Marini: The debate on nanobioethics in Italy has been supported almost exclusively by ECSEL and a few other bodies. As a matter of fact, the Italian bioethical debate is mostly reduced to the opposition between secularists and catholics on issues of early-life (cloning, stem cells, and embryo) and late-life (euthanasia, living will). In this situation the public is unable to perceive and understand the issues related to the spread of nanotechnology or to assess the bioethical implications.
Ineke Malsch: Which issues are caused by a lack of scientific insight into ethical, legal or social aspects? What can ethicists, philosophers and social scientists contribute to the discussion on these issues?
Luca Marini: The lack of scientific approach in the ethical, legal and social facets promotes a stereotyped debate. This debate is more concerned with the defence of political and dogmatic positions than with the solution of problems. Ethicists, philosophers and social scientists can contribute to the solution of problems only by working in an interdisciplinary manner making use of other skills.
Ineke Malsch: Which issues are caused by conflicts of interests between groups in society? What is the role of politicians and civil society in addressing these issues?
Luca Marini: At the moment, there is no conflict between society and techno-industrial stakeholders in nanotechnology. This is because the problem has not yet matured in the social consciousness. The role of politicians and civil society should be to help this development in a transparent and shared manner. In this context, the redefinition of science-society relationships and the promotion of a pluralistic and objective culture of science communication are fundamental.
Ineke Malsch: What role (if any) can the European Commission code of conduct for responsible nanotechnology research play in governing nanobiotechnology?
Luca Marini: The European Commission should undertake to conduct a science-based debate trying to balance the technological, industrial and market interests with concerns of a general interest such as environmental protection, health and consumer protection. This is a very difficult goal, considering the interests at stake and the pressure from the industrial world that the Commission is confronted with.
Ineke Malsch: Are there applications of nanobiotechnologies which should not be allowed or subject to new regulations according to you? At which level should such measures be taken (national, EU, global)?
Luca Marini: We must distinguish between scientific progress and its applications. While scientific progress must remain free, technological applications must be regulated at the highest possible level. This is particularly true for those applications that have an impact on the environment and on human health.
Ineke Malsch: Do you think there are applications of nanobiotechnologies which should be stimulated more than they are now for ethical reasons?
Luca Marini: I believe that applications of nanomedicine must be particularly encouraged.
Ineke Malsch: How do you see your own role in the developments and discussions?
Luca Marini: The participation in the Italian National Bioethics Committee (CNB) gives me the opportunity to stimulate the debate on nanobioethics within the maximum advisory institution on bioethics of the Italian government. In addition, I am heavily involved in the organization of public events to draw the attention of the experts and of the public to nanotechnology.
Name: Prof. Dr. Luca Marini
Functions:Vice President of Italian National Bioethics Committee; Professor of International Law at “La Sapienza” University of Rome; European Commission “Jean Monnet Chair Ad Personam” of Biolaw; President of Centre for Biojuridical Studies “ECSEL” (European Centre for Science, Ethics and Law); Member of Task Force on Nanotechnologies of FEDERCHIMICA
Organization:“La Sapienza” University, Faculty of Economics, Rome
Websites: http://www.ecsel.org/ http://www.governo.it/bioetica/index.html
Role in debate on nanotechnology, ethics and society:
In 2002, Professor Marini took the initiative for a working group of the Italian National Bioethics Committee on nanosciences and nanotechnology. This group produced an opinion on ethical aspects of nanotechnology in 2006. As president of Center for Biojuridical Studies “ECSEL”, Prof. Marini has promoted, organised and realized several events discussing ethics of nanotechnology, converging technologies and other new technologies.
Relevant recent publications
- L. Marini, “Codice del diritto internazionale e comunitario della bioetica”, Torino, Giappichelli, 2009 (“Code of international and community law of bioethics”, Turin, Giappichelli, 2009);
- L. Marini, “Diritto internazionale e comunitario della bioetica, Torino, Giappichelli, 2006 (“International and community law of bioethics”, Turin, Giappichelli, 2006);
- Italian National Bioethics Committee, “Opinion on Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies”, Rome, 9 June 2006, http://www.governo.it/bioetica/eng/opinions/Nanosciences_9_06_206.pdf
- L. Marini, “Il principio di precauzione nel diritto internazionale e comunitario”, Padova, Cedam, 2004 (“Precautionary principle in international and community law”, Padua, Cedam, 2004).
- 1 December 2009, “Dottore, vorrei un corpo bionico! Cibernetica e biorobotica per il potenziamento umano” (“Doctor, I want a bionic body! Cybernetic and Biorobotics for Human Enhancement”), ECSEL, Rome, http://www.ecsel.org/conferences.htm;
- 26 November 2009, “Nuove tecnologie e riabilitazione di alta specializzazione” IV Convegno Nazionale della Società Italiana di Riabilitazione di Alta Specializzazione (“New Technologies and Riabilitation of High Specialisation”, IV National Conference of Italian Society of Riabilitation of High Specialisation), Pavia, http://www.sirasonline.it;
- 15 July 2009, “L’Etica del Nuovo: Nanotecnologie, Neuroscienze, RoboEtica” (“Ethics of the New: Nanotechnology, Neuroscience and RoboEthics”), ECSEL, Rome, http://www.ecsel.org/conferences.htm;
- 19 February 2009, “Le Converging Technologies: Nanotecnologie, neuroscienze, robotica” (“Converging Technologies: Nanotechnologies, Neurosciences, Robotics”), ECSEL, Rome, http://www.ecsel.org/conferences.htm;
- 20 November 2008, “Convegno Nazionale Nanotecnologie, Ambiente e Sicurezza”, (“National Conference on Nanotechnologies, Environment and Security”), Veneto Nanotech, Milano, htpp://www.venetonanotech.it;
- 2 December 2007, “Conferenza sulle nanotecnologie” (“Conference on Nanotechnologies”), FEDERCHIMICA, Milano, htpp://www.federchimica.it;
- 27 June 2006 “Convegno internazionale di studio sulle nanoscienze e le nanotecnologie (“International Conference on Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies”), ECSEL, Rome, http://www.ecsel.org/conferences.htm
Visits: 1421, Published on: January, 6th 2010, 09:28 AM, Last edit: 2010-01-06 09:34:31 Size: 9 KByte