ARLINGTON, VA—Scientists, engineers, and government officials must confront head-on the ethical and societal implications of nanoscience and nanotechnology in order to keep the field from falling victim to the obstacles that have hampered progress in biotechnology and stem cell research, experts said last week at a workshop on nanoscience and society. But some of the protections are already in place, other participants said.

The workshop, Societal Implications of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, held December 3–5 at the National Science Foundation (NSF), brought together some 150 scientists, engineers, government officials, and industry representatives to discuss the implications of nanotechnology on such areas as health and economics, privacy, national security, and quality of life. The NSF held a similar conference in 2000.

Protocols already in existence, such as the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee for genetic engineering, will also suffice for nanoscience, John Marburger, presidential science adviser and director of the Office of...

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