Overblog Suivre ce blog
Administration Créer mon blog
28 décembre 2009 1 28 /12 /décembre /2009 18:23

Le Comité exécutif de la CES, lors de sa réunion de Bruxelles, les 24 et 25 juin 2008, a adopté une résolution sur les nanotechnologies et les nanomatériaux.

Introduction


Les nanotechnologies sont des technologies émergentes et transdisciplinaires
qui permettent la conception, la manipulation et la fabrication de structures ou d'objets à l'échelle nanométrique, c'est à dire la taille de quelques atomes ou molécules. A cette échelle, les propriétés physico-chimiques de la matière peuvent significativement différer de celles obtenues à une plus grande échelle. La base commune de ces technologies est donc de produire des objets, appelés nanomatériaux, qui possèdent des propriétés et des comportements nouveaux qu'il n'est pas possible ou facile d'obtenir avec des technologies conventionnelles.


Qualifiées de " moteur de la prochaine révolution industrielle ", les
nanotechnologies présentent un potentiel considérable de développement et d’application, notamment dans les domaines des biotechnologies et de la médecine (outils de diagnostic, de traitement et de prévention), des technologies de l’information et de la communication (miniaturisation et amélioration des capacités de stockage), de l'énergie (meilleurs rendements de stockage, de conversion ou de production d'énergie), de l'agriculture et de l'environnement (dépollution des sols, des eaux et de l'air), etc.

 

L'industrie et les gouvernements l'ont bien compris. Les budgets publics consacrés aux nanotechnologies, aux Etats-Unis comme en Europe, ne cessent d'augmenter d'année en année. L'Union européenne a ainsi décidé d'allouer, entre 2007 et 2013, 3,5 milliards d'euros à la recherche sur les nanotechnologies. A cela s'ajoutent les investissements privés et les budgets nationaux destinés à la recherche. L'estimation la plus souvent citée prévoit que le marché mondial des nanotechnologies atteindra 1.000 milliards de dollars d'ici à 2015.

 

En termes d'emploi, certains affirment que le développement des  nanotechnologies nécessiterait le recrutement de 2 à 10 millions de travailleurs dans le monde d'ici à 2014. Une partie importante de ces emplois serait créée en Europe, principalement dans les "start-up" et les PME.

 

Des centaines de produits de grande consommation contenant des nanomatériaux manufacturés, ou qui ont été fabriqués à l'aide d'un procédé faisant intervenir des nanomatériaux, sont déjà disponibles sur le marché. Il s'agit par exemple de produits cosmétiques, d'articles de sport, de textiles, de produits alimentaires, de peintures, de produits de construction et

d'appareillages électroniques.


Ces produits sont aujourd’hui fabriqués et commercialisés sans savoir si les nanomatériaux qu'ils contiennent peuvent s'en échapper et sans connaître leurs effets potentiels sur la santé humaine et l'environnement. Les travailleurs sont exposés à ces nouveaux matériaux tout au long de la chaîne de production, des laboratoires aux rayonnages des magasins en passant par la fabrication, le transport, le nettoyage, la réparation et la gestion des déchets.


Cependant, on ne sait toujours pas si les protocoles de sécurité utilisés sont adéquats ou si les mesures de protection appliquées sont valables. Des travailleurs et des consommateurs sont exposés à des produits renfermant des nanomatériaux sans le savoir et sans recevoir la moindre information sur les risques potentiels. On rejette, on dissémine dans la nature des nanomatériaux sans en connaître les éventuelles conséquences et sans disposer de moyens efficaces pour les détecter et les mesurer.


Or, des preuves scientifiques de plus en plus nombreuses indiquent que certains nanomatériaux manufacturés présentent des dangers nouveaux et inhabituels. Comme les particules de petite taille ont, pour une masse donnée, une plus grande surface (ré)active que les particules plus grosses, leur toxicité peut aussi être plus marquée.


Si le développement des nanotechnologies peut apporter des bénéfices très importants à notre société, elles soulèvent aussi beaucoup d'inquiétudes quant aux risques qu'elles pourraient faire courir à notre santé et à l'environnement.

 

La Commission européenne a adopté en 2005 un plan d’action sur les nanotechnologies et les nanosciences pour la période 2005-2009. Ce plan prévoit l’évaluation des risques pour la santé humaine, l’environnement, les consommateurs et les travailleurs à tous les stades du cycle de vie de la technologie (conception, fabrication, distribution, utilisation, recyclage).

Cependant, les programmes de recherche sont encore généralement à un stade très précoce d'avancement et il faudra attendre encore longtemps avant que des données complètes soient disponibles pour se faire une idée précise des risques potentiels associés aux différentes nanoparticules manufacturées.

La Confédération européenne des syndicats (CES), ses fédérations et confédérations membres ont tenu à apporter une première contribution à ce débat sociétal important en précisant les éléments de la politique européenne qu'elles considèrent être indispensables au développement responsable de ces
technologies émergentes.

Position de la CES : voir le rapport pdf ETUC resolution on nano - FR- 25 June 08 pdf ETUC resolution on nano - FR- 25 June 08



Repost 0
21 décembre 2009 1 21 /12 /décembre /2009 15:26

La France a donné lundi 21 décembre 2009 un coup de fouet à son partenariat nucléaire avec la Chine grâce à des transferts de technologie annoncés par le Premier ministre français lors d'une visite officielle à Pékin.


François Fillon, accompagné en Chine d'Anne Lauvergeon, présidente du directoire d'Areva, et d'Henri Proglio, nouveau P-DG d'EDF, a souligné lors d'une cérémonie l'importance et l'histoire de la coopération franco-chinoise dans le nucléaire civil.


" Le nucléaire est plus que jamais un thème fondamental du dialogue franco-chinois ", a-t-il dit dans l'imposante enceinte du Grand palais du peuple, sur la place Tiananmen de Pékin.


" Pour la France, c'est un honneur et une fierté d'avoir pu contribuer à la maîtrise de la technologie nucléaire par la Chine, au cours d'un partenariat initié il y a presque 30 ans ", a-t-il ajouté.


Paris et Pékin ont le projet de former ensemble des ingénieurs nucléaires et de construire sur le sol chinois une usine de retraitement des combustibles.


Les deux réacteurs de troisième génération EPR en construction dans la province de Guangdong ont aussi connu une nouvelle avancée avec la signature entre la holding chinoise CGNPC d'une part, Areva et EDF d'autre part, de deux coentreprises.


La TNPC, formée pour 30% par EDF et 70% par la China Guangdong nuclear power group (CGNPG), qui fait partie de CGNPC, sera en charge de la construction et de l'exploitation durant 50 ans de ces deux EPR situés à Taishan, dans le sud de la Chine.


L'investissement d'EDF dans cette coentreprise est de 600 millions d'euros selon le quotidien Les Echos.


Areva détiendra en outre 45% de Wecan, coentreprise qu'elle formera avec le CGNPC pour l'ingéniérie des réacteurs de Taishan, a annoncé Anne Lauvergeon.


Le groupe nucléaire français et son partenaire Dongfang ont également validé la vente pour 200 millions d'euros de pompes primaires pour des CPR 1000, réacteurs de deuxième génération.


Le premier EPR, dont la construction a été entamée en novembre, doit être opérationnel à la fin 2013 et le deuxième à la fin 2014.


Tranferts de technologie


Areva, d'abord réticent aux transferts de technologie, a fini par se plier aux exigences chinoises. Le groupe français a bataillé pour convaincre Pékin de la qualité de ses réacteurs de troisième génération et a été devancé dans un premier temps par Westinghouse, filiale du groupe japonais Toshiba Corp, qui a remporté un contrat de quatre réacteurs en 2007.

La Chine est en effet "le pays qui construit le plus grand nombre de réacteurs" au monde, a souligné François Fillon.


La République populaire compte 11 réacteurs en activité pour une capacité globale de production de 9,1 gigawatts (GW). Vingt-quatre nouveaux réacteurs représentant 25,4 GW sont actuellement en construction et, selon le China Daily, le gouvernement souhaite porter sa capacité à 86 GW d'ici 2020.


La France souhaite dorénavant travailler avec la Chine sur la quatrième génération d'EPR. Un milliard d'euros puisés dans le futur grand emprunt français seront consacrés à la recherche sur ces futurs réacteurs, " avec lesquels la gestion du cycle du combustible sera encore plus efficace ", a dit François Fillon.


" Le développement d'un secteur nucléaire durable et responsable, c'est pour notre coopération nucléaire un nouvel axe essentiel ", a-t-il ajouté.


L'alliance franco-chinoise dans le nucléaire se déclinera dans l'aval et dans l'amont de l'exploitation des réacteurs.


Un accord a été signé lundi entre l'université Sun Yat-Sen de Canton et un consortium de cinq écoles françaises pour l'ouverture l'an prochain d'une école franco-chinoise d'ingénieurs nucléaires.


Les deux pays ont aussi le projet d'une usine de retraitement des combustibles usés en s'appuyant sur la technologie française.

Repost 0
20 décembre 2009 7 20 /12 /décembre /2009 15:32

 

 À l’issue d’un vote, par 131 voix pour, aucune voix contre et 37 adoptions, la Deuxième Commission a adopté le projet de texte intitulé « Les technologies agricoles au service du développement »
(http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/LTD/N09/625/40/PDF/N0962540.pdf?OpenElement). 
Par ce texte, l’Assemblée générale souligne l’importance de la collaboration, du partage de l’information et de la diffusion des résultats des travaux de recherche consacrés aux technologies agricoles ainsi que d’une consultation à grande échelle au moment de définir les programmes de recherche mondiaux. 

 

La Commission économique et financière (Deuxième Commission) de l'Assemblée générale de l'Organisation des Nations Unies s’est réunie le 4 décembre 2009 pour adopter 11 projets de résolution relatifs à des enjeux de développement et de protection du climat, dont elle était saisie pendant ses travaux.  À l’exception d’un texte, présenté par l’État d’Israël et relatif aux technologies au service du développement, tous les autres projets de résolution ont été adoptés sans vote par les délégations. L’Assemblée demande notamment aux États Membres et aux organismes compétents des Nations Unies de redoubler d’efforts pour mettre au point et diffuser des technologies agricoles durables appropriées, notamment dans les pays en développement et avec eux, à des conditions équitables, transparentes et convenues. 

 Elle prie, en outre, les organismes compétents des Nations Unies, dont l’Organisation des Nations Unies pour l’alimentation et l’agriculture et le Fonds international de développement agricole, de promouvoir, d’appuyer et de faciliter l’échange de données d’expérience entre les États Membres sur la manière d’agrandir de manière viable les zones agricoles.

 

Explications de position

Avant le vote, la représentante d’Israël s’est réjouie des « soutiens nombreux » recueilli par ce projet de résolution, ce qui, a-t-elle poursuivi, atteste de l’importance de cet enjeu et des travaux de la Deuxième Commission.

S’exprimant lui aussi avant le vote, au nom du Groupe des pays arabes dont il assure la présidence, le représentant de l’Iraq a expliqué à l’avance leur position de s’abstenir à l’occasion du vote sur ce projet de résolution.  Le Groupe des pays arabes déplore, a-t-il dit, la concurrence entre celui-ci et un autre projet de texte présenté par le Soudan au nom du Groupe des 77 et de la Chine.  Il a également relevé que le projet de résolution soumis au vote ne « tient compte ni des intérêts des pays développés, ni de ceux des pays en développement ».  Le représentant de l’Iraq a également regretté le fait que l’État d’Israël, « dernière puissance occupante de l’histoire moderne », profite de la tribune des Nations Unies pour tirer des retombées, au plan politique, d’une initiative très importante pour les pays en développement. Ce pays, a-t-il poursuivi, exploite à son profit l’enjeu des technologies au service du développement, alors même qu’il soumet le peuple palestinien à un traitement cruel et contrarie le développement agricole dans les territoires palestiniens occupés et dans le Golan syrien occupé.  Le Président du Groupe des États arabes a conclu son intervention en déclarant que l’État d’Israël n’a aucune légitimité sur les questions de développement agricole et ne porte en réalité aucun intérêt à ces questions ni à celles relatives au transfert de technologies  vers les pays du Sud.  Il a estimé que voter en faveur de ce projet de résolution encourageait l’État d’Israël à continuer à occuper les territoires palestiniens notamment.

Après le vote, la représentante d’Israël s’est félicitée de son résultat et des efforts ayant mené à son adoption.  Le large éventail de coauteurs de ce projet de résolution, venant de pays du Nord et du Sud, souligne l’importance de ce texte et des recommandations qui y sont contenues, a-t-elle poursuivi.  La représentante d’Israël a enfin estimé que le fait qu’aucun pays n’ait voté contre ce projet de texte était une bonne nouvelle.  Ceci marque le début du chemin à parcourir, a-t-elle également souligné.

Source :
www.un.org
 (http://www.un.org/News/fr-press/docs/2009/AGEF3273.doc.htm)

Voir également : http://www.un.org/News/fr-press/docs/2009/ENVDEV1048.doc.htm

Repost 0
13 décembre 2009 7 13 /12 /décembre /2009 12:42

Une étude publiée dans la revue International Journal of Biological Sciences démontre la toxicité de trois maïs génétiquement modifiés du semencier américain Monsanto, a annoncé vendredi 11 décembre le Comité de recherche et d'information indépendant sur le génie génétique (Criigen, basé à Caen), qui a participé à cette étude.


" Nous avons prouvé pour la première fois au monde que ces OGM n'étaient pas sains, ni suffisamment corrects pour être commercialisés. […] A chaque fois, pour les trois OGM, les reins et le foie, qui sont les principaux organes réagissant lors d'une intoxication alimentaire chimique, ont des problèmes ", a indiqué Gilles-Eric Séralini, expert membre de la Commission pour la réévaluation des biotechnologies, créée en 2008 par l'UE.


Universitaires de Caen et Rouen et chercheurs du Criigen se sont basés sur les relevés fournis par Monsanto aux autorités sanitaires pour obtenir le feu vert à la commercialisation, mais ils en tirent des conclusions différentes après de nouveaux calculs statistiques. Selon le Pr Séralini, les autorités sanitaires se basent sur la lecture des conclusions présentées par Monsanto et non sur celles de l'ensemble des chiffres. Les chercheurs ont, eux, pu obtenir l'intégralité des documents après décision de justice.


" Les tests de Monsanto, réalisés sur quatre-vingt-dix jours, ne sont à l'évidence pas assez longs pour pouvoir dire si cela déclenche des maladies chroniques. C'est pourquoi nous demandons des tests d'au moins deux ans ", a expliqué un chercheur. Les scientifiques demandent en conséquence la " ferme interdiction " de l'importation et de la culture de ces OGM.


Ces trois OGM (MON810, MON863 et NK603) " sont approuvés pour la consommation animale et humaine dans l'UE et aux Etats-Unis " notamment, précise le Pr Séralini. " Dans l'UE, seul le MON810 est cultivé dans certains pays (surtout en Espagne), les autres sont importés ", ajoute-t-il encore.

Une réunion des ministres de l'UE est prévue au sujet des MON810 et NK603 lundi 14 décembre 2009.


PS : Cet article a été publié sur le site LeMonde.fr le 11 décembre 2009.

Repost 0
9 décembre 2009 3 09 /12 /décembre /2009 11:31

Afin d'améliorer l'accès du public à l'information environnementale, la Commission européenne et l'Agence européenne de l'Environnement (AEE) ont annoncé, le 9 novembre 2009, la mise en service d'un nouveau regsitre européen des rejets et transferts de polluants industriels, accessible en ligne à l'adresse http://prtr.ec.europa.eu.

Ce regsitre est baptisé E-PRTR, du nom du Protocole PRTR sur les registres des rejets et transferts de polluants adopté en 2003 par les parties à la Convention d'Aarhus et entré en vigueur le 8 octobre 2009.

Il contient, pour l'année 2007, les données relatives à 91 polluants émis dans l'air, l'eau et le sol par plus de 24 000 installations industrielles actives dans 65 secteurs d'activité économiques dans l'Union européenne, en Islande, au Liechtenstein et en Norvège.

" L'ouverture de ce registre donnera aux citoyens un accès direct aux informations sur les émissions industrielles en Europe et les aidera à prendre activement part aux décisions qui concernent l'environnement. Elle traduit un engagement authentique des pouvoirs publics et de l'industrie en faveur du partage de l'information avec les citoyens ", commente Stavros Dimas, Commissaire à l'Environnement, selon un communiqué.

Jacqueline McGlade, directeur exécutif de l'AEE, précise que ce nouvel outil satisfait à l'objectif de participation du public fixé par la Convention d'Aarhus étant donné que " tout un chacun peut désormais savoir quelle quantité de polluants les installations de son voisinage ou de sa région rejettent dans l'air et dans l'eau ".

Les données disponibles couvrent 30 % des émissions totales de NOx (oxydes d'azote), soit la plupart des émissions provenant de sources de pollution autres que le transport, et 76 % des émissions totales de SOx (oxydes de soufre) en Europe.

Le registre renseigne aussi sur la quantité transférée de déchets et d'eaux usées en tenant compte des transferts transfrontaliers de déchets dangereux, et livre des informations préliminaires sur les polluants de sources diffuses rejetés dans l'eau, comme l'azote et le phosphore d'origine agricole.

Le site Internet dispose d'un moteur de recherche puissant qui permet aux visiteurs d'introduire un ou plusieurs critères et de localiser une zone géographique sur une carte. Chacun peut ainsi rechercher à loisir la quantité de déchets dangereux et non dangereux transférée dans un pays donné (waste search) ou rechercher par nom ou par lieu la quantité de rejets d'un site industriel spécifique (facility search).

Les données ont été fournies par les installations industrielles aux autorités nationales, lesquelles les ont transmises à la Commission européenne. Le registre fait la synthèse de ces informations.

A compter de 2010, le registre sera mis à jour chaque année au mois d'avril.

Source : Agence Europe (cf. Les publications de l'Agence Europe ! ou Connaissez-vous l'Agence Europe ? )

Repost 0
25 novembre 2009 3 25 /11 /novembre /2009 22:25

Executive Summary


Nanotechnologies are set to transform industrial society. Nanotechnologies allow for the manipulation of matter or
creation of structures down to the molecular level (typically at a scale of approximately 100 nanometres or less, a nanometre being one- billionth of a metre). They promise benefits in a wide range of applications, from health care to food, cosmetics, chemicals, information technology and energy storage.


Nanomaterials are already being used in numerous consumer products, and more commercial applications can
be expected in coming years. At the same time, a gap has emerged between the development of nanotechnologies and our understanding of how nanomaterials interact with the environment and the human body. Early results of research suggest that the safety of all nanomaterials cannot be taken for granted. The ongoing expansion of nanotechnologies may produce novel nanostructures that cause currently unknown forms of hazard. Developing nanomaterials governance that is both effective and proportional to potential risks is critical to the future success of existing and emerging nanotechnologies.


The European Union and the United States are worldwide leaders in the scientific and commercial development
of nanotechnologies. Their regulatory responses to potential risks will send an important signal worldwide. In the past, they have cooperated in international efforts to harmonize their respective risk regulation, through the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).


Where successful, such efforts have promoted high levels of protection while enabling scientists and industries to
operate freely in the transatlantic economic space.


In some cases, however, transatlantic coordination and cooperation have proved difficult. Differences in
legislative frameworks, regulatory cultures and societal risk perceptions can contribute to a divergence of regulatory responses. This was the case, for example, with high-profile transatlantic disputes over hormone-treated beef and genetically modified food, which have had a negative impact on transatlantic relations and trade. These experiences have shown the importance of identifying technological risks and promoting international cooperation at an early stage in the policy process.


This report aims to contribute to the debate on how best to address the risks of emerging nanotechnologies and
how to promote coordinated and convergent approaches in the EU and US. It presents the main findings of a project that was carried out by a consortium of research institutions from both sides of the Atlantic: the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and Chatham House (the Royal Institute of International Affairs) in the UK, and the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) and the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in the United States.


The project was funded by a research grant from the European Commission, and is based on extensive
consultation with experts and stakeholders in nanomaterials regulation on both sides of the Atlantic. It provides a detailed comparative analysis of EU and US regulatory frameworks in the key areas of chemicals, food and cosmetics, and identifies options and challenges for policy-makers and regulators in promoting greater transatlantic cooperation and convergence in nanomaterials regulation.


Regulatory challenges of nanomaterials


Governments in leading industrialized countries are currently relying on existing frameworks for environmental,
health, and safety (EHS) regulation to deal with nanotechnology risks, making minor adjustments to specific regulations and their implementation in order to close any potential gaps or eliminate uncertainties. Regulators face a number of challenges in dealing with the potential risks of nanomaterials. These challenges are related to a series of uncertainties, with regard to the development and commercial application of nanomaterials, hazards and exposure pathways, the direction and speed of technological change, and the suitability and effectiveness of existing regulatory frameworks.


Rapid technological change. While the current regulatory focus is on passive nanomaterials, future developments
will include active nanomaterials and are likely to converge with other technologies such as information, bio- and cognitive technologies. These future-generation nanomaterials will develop in ways that are difficult to foresee.


Regulators will need to constantly expand their knowledge base covering multiple areas of scientific and engineering
inquiry and develop flexible responses to a constantly changing technological environment.


Uncertainty of commercialization paths. While the number of existing commercial products using nanomaterials
keeps growing, uncertainty exists regarding future commercialization paths. As the range of commercial applications expands, governments will have to address potential risks of nanomaterials in diverse regulatory contexts covering different industries and commercial applications, potentially adding to existing uncertainty about the regulatory coverage of nanomaterials risks.


Uncertainty regarding nanomaterials risks. A lack of data on hazards and exposure pathways of certain
nanomaterials, combined with uncertainty about the applicability of some existing testing methods, are widely recognized impediments to the effective implementation of regulations. It is, therefore, too early to establish whether existing regulatory frameworks can and will be effective in the face of potential risks.


Uncertainty regarding the suitability of regulatory frameworks. Whether current laws provide adequate oversight for
certain applications of nanotechnologies or whether new legislative instruments are needed depends very much on how existing statutes and regulations are implemented. Adequate guidance for implementation and the provision of the necessary resources for regulatory oversight thus become critical factors in developing effective regulatory responses.


Uncertainty regarding regulatory and scientific resources. The challenges that novel technologies such as
nanotechnology present require significant investment in human resources. Statutes are a necessary but insufficient condition for success if the regulators lack enforcement capacity, scientific expertise and foresight. The public sector will increasingly have to compete with industry for talent in these emerging technology areas.


Towards regulatory effectiveness and convergence: policy recommendations


What should the EU and US do to promote more effective and convergent regulation of nanomaterials ? Below we
present key policy-relevant findings of this project, based on our own research and consultations with relevant experts and stakeholders. We focus on three clusters of issues that we identified as the most important areas : the creation of the scientific building blocks that are necessary for risk assessment; the closure of existing knowledge gaps with regard to the commercialization of nanomaterials and potential EHS risks; and questions of societal and ethical perspectives and how they are addressed in risk management. We conclude with an outlook on the global challenges of developing nanomaterials regulation in a world of internationally integrated markets and new nanotechnology producers in emerging economies.


Creation of scientific building blocks


Nearly all experts whom we consulted agreed on the need to establish a firm scientific basis for risk assessment.


Many of the scientific building blocks, with regard to definition and characterization of nanomaterials, metrology
and testing methods, are as yet missing or have not been internationally standardized. Developing common practices in these areas is a critical step towards more effective regulation; they are key building blocks of risk assessment.


Regulators and experts in the US, Europe and elsewhere are currently seeking to fill existing gaps by working
together in various international forums. Our research suggests that ongoing work on creating scientific building blocks for risk assessment needs to be stepped up and expanded if it is to produce results in a timely fashion. The rapid pace of commercialization of nanomaterials demands a greater sense of urgency in this area.


The OECD enjoys broad legitimacy in promoting coordination on the building blocks for risk assessment,
and is a central institution in the context of transatlantic regulatory convergence. At the same time, more political energy and resources need to be invested in the OECD process and greater transparency and inclusiveness should be achieved in its work.


Closing knowledge gaps


Furthermore, regulators face two important knowledge gaps, with regard to the EHS risks associated with the
production and use of nanomaterials, and the presence of nanomaterials in commercial products. These two dimensions of uncertainty are closely linked and complicate the search for effective regulatory answers. Knowing as soon as possible what types of nanoscale products are on the market, what types of nanomaterials are used and how they move through possible product life-cycles provides some grounding for establishing research needs in the field of EHS risks. Uncertainty in both these areas afflicts US and EU regulatory systems in equal measure. Transatlantic cooperation on reducing uncertainty with respect to the commercial use of nanomaterials and on EHS risks would help both sides in addressing certain regulatory challenges.


Accordingly, as a matter of priority, governments on both sides of the Atlantic need significantly to increase
funding for research into EHS risks of nanomaterials. International research coordination has its limits and can be difficult to achieve, but the benefits of improved transatlantic coordination of EHS research outweigh the costs.


Against the background of strained public finances and urgent research needs, enhanced transatlantic cooperation
would give a greater sense of strategic direction to existing research efforts and strengthen the basis for sustained research funding streams into the future.


Furthermore, we encourage regulators and policy-makers to explore all options available to them, whether
through domestic reform or international agreement, for promoting better information-sharing of EHS risk-related data on nanomaterials that ensures commercially sensitive data remain protected.


A second knowledge gap concerns the state of the commercialization of nanomaterials. Many companies
themselves are uncertain about the use of such materials within their own industry, and regulators on both sides of the Atlantic have acknowledged that they currently do not have comprehensive knowledge about their presence in commercially traded goods. Recently introduced voluntary substances reporting programmes are unlikely to close such knowledge gaps.


Given the persistence of these knowledge gaps, governments on both sides of the Atlantic should strengthen
existing mandatory reporting requirements and, where necessary, create new ones, with a view to gaining a comprehensive overview of the commercial use of nanomaterials. Given the high degree of economic interdependence between the US and EU, any effort to enhance market transparency through improved reporting schemes would benefit from a coordinated effort by both sides.


Risk management and consumer labelling


Efforts to promote international coordination and cooperation are currently focused on establishing the
scientific building blocks needed for risk assessment. In comparison, transatlantic coordination efforts on risk management are likely to be less productive, may be premature, and would face greater obstacles. At the same time, the internationalization of the nanosciences and nanotechnologies will inevitably bring any differences in risk management approaches into sharper focus in transatlantic relations. As more and more nanomaterials are adopted commercially and enter global supply chains, differences in national or regional risk management approaches may end up complicating the free flow of goods across national boundaries. For this reason, coordination in the area of risk management will need to be given greater prominence on the international agenda in the coming years.


One important but controversial element of risk management is consumer labelling. So far, neither the US nor
the EU has introduced legally binding consumer labelling requirements that specifically target nanomaterials, but moves are under way, particularly in the EU, to introduce such technology-specific labelling systems and some limited labelling requirements already exist, e.g. in food regulation. Our interviewees expressed strongly divergent views on the need to go beyond this state of affairs by creating more comprehensive labelling requirements, and on whether more convergent approaches could and should be developed in this area.


In the light of the contentious nature of labelling, in terms of its general necessity and specific form of
implementation, we conclude there is no overwhelming case for arguing that the US and EU should prioritize international efforts to create new, mandatory, labelling requirements or harmonize existing ones at this time. But US and EU authorities should explore the implications of potentially diverging consumer labelling requirements for nanomaterials, particularly in the context of international trade obligations.


Furthermore, if the US and EU were to explore the possibility of developing common approaches or standards for
nanomaterials labelling, such an undertaking should involve a multi-stakeholder forum to engage relevant groups from industry and civil society in order to give full weight to the different commercial and ethical concerns. Such an effort would be less urgent than the creation of common building blocks for risk assessment, but is nevertheless important in its own right.


Addressing global dimensions


No efforts have been undertaken as yet to create a formal, treaty-based, international framework for nanomaterials
regulation. Our research suggests little if any interest in pursuing the more ambitious objective of creating an international treaty on nanomaterials regulation. The political energies that would need to be invested in such a project are better spent on strengthening existing forums for international coordination and adjusting domestic regulatory frameworks where needed. Given the globalized nature of nanotechnological developments and commercialization, however, one cannot rule out the possibility that such a need for an international framework treaty might arise in the future, particularly as new players from the developing world are emerging in the global nanotechnology business.


In view of the ongoing and accelerating globalization of nanotechnologies, the EU and the US should perceive the
global governance challenges arising from nanomaterials in broader terms. The OECD serves an important function as a forum for coordination among leading industrialized countries, but its work should be complemented by the development of international governance capacity in other areas, and there should be greater inclusion of developing countries. Other international organizations, such as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), play important roles in their respective areas of global environmental protection and health promotion, but are only just beginning to identify the EHS risks of nanomaterials as emerging areas of concern. The current imbalance in the development of international governance capacity should thus be redressed, not least to ensure that developing countries are better represented in global regulatory cooperation.

... / ...


The complete report : 14692_r0909_nanotechnologies.pdf 14692_r0909_nanotechnologies.pdf

Repost 0
21 novembre 2009 6 21 /11 /novembre /2009 14:34

Dans cette conférence, Michel Serres aborde les nouvelles technologies sous un angle original, en questionnant ce qu'elles apportent de nouveau.


Michel Serres passe tout d'abord en revue ce qui ne lui paraît pas nouveau, avant de détailler les aspects où selon lui réside la nouveauté : le rapport à l'espace, la question du droit, l'externalisation des fonctions cognitives.


Ces réflexions le conduisent à définir un exo-darwinisme, et à montrer que dans le développement humain, chaque perte a permis de gagner une nouvelle fonction.


À la fin de son exposé, d'une durée d'une heure environ, Michel Serres répond pendant une quarantaine de minutes aux questions de l'auditoire.


Voir la présentation de 1 h 38 mn en XML/SMIL.
Pour visionner le document, utiliser RealPlayer.


Voir la vidéo non chapitrée
au format Real (utiliser RealPlayer).


Écouter la conférence en MP3.


Cette conférence de Michel Serres, enregistrée à l'École Polytechnique le 1er décembre 2005, fait partie du cycle Culture Web, coordonné par Serge Abiteboul, dans le cadre des Thématiques INRIA. Elle a été organisée par Serge Abiteboul et Gilles Dowek.

Source :

http://interstices.info/jcms/c_15918/les-nouvelles-technologies-que-nous-apportent-elles

Voir également sur ce blog les articles de la rubrique Technologies et entreprises en action et en débat
Repost 0
16 novembre 2009 1 16 /11 /novembre /2009 13:40

Le débat

Par lettre conjointe en date du 23 février 2009, huit ministres ont saisi la Commission nationale du débat d'une demande de débat public sur les options générales en matière de développement et de régulation des nanotechnologies.

Lors de la séance du 4 mars 2009, la CNDP a décidé l'organisation de ce débat et en a confié l'animation à une Commission particulière.

Thèmes mis en débat 

Le champ du débat sera très large. Sans que cette liste soit limitative, il devra s’adresser :
 - aux nanosciences, aux nanotechnologies et à toutes leurs applications ;
 - à leurs aspects scientifiques, techniques, industriels et économiques ;
 - aux risques sanitaires qui peuvent en résulter pour les travailleurs, les consommateurs, le public en général ;
 - aux risques pour l’environnement que peuvent générer les produits des nanotechnologies tout au long de leur cycle de vie ;
 - à l’impact que peuvent avoir les nanotechnologies sur notre vie quotidienne, sur notre santé… ;
 - à l’impact qu’elles peuvent avoir sur nos sociétés, en particulier en termes de développement durable ;
 - aux questions éthiques de diverses natures qu’elles soulèvent : protection des libertés individuelles, équilibres géopolitiques, limites de l’intervention sur le vivant… ;
 - aux mécanismes de contrôle, régulation et gouvernance à mettre en place pour maîtriser leur développement.

 
Les objectifs du débat

 - Informer la population sur les principales controverses que soulève le sujet et lui permettre de comprendre les positions des acteurs qui les portent.
 - Permettre à la population de s’exprimer sur les nanotechnologies.
 - Eclairer les grandes orientations de l'action de l'Etat.

 

Les principes du débat

 - Transparence : toute l’information sur le projet est rendue disponible et compréhensible.
 - Equivalence : quelque soit son statut ou sa représentativité, toute personne peut s’exprimer, poser une question, donner son avis et émettre une proposition.
 - Argumentation : pour garantir la richesse et la pertinence du débat, les différentes prises de position doivent être argumentées.

 

Les suites du débat

 - Compte-rendu et bilan : Dans les deux mois suivant la clôture du débat public, la Commission particulière, sans prendre position, publie un compte-rendu des opinions exprimées durant le débat et le président de la Commission nationale établit un bilan en présentant les éléments essentiels.
 - Décision du maître d’ouvrage : Dans les trois mois suivant la publication du compte-rendu et du bilan du débat, le maître d’ouvrage annonce sa décision quant aux suites qu’il compte donner au projet à l’aune des opinions exprimées lors du débat public.

Temps d’ouverture et de dialogue, le débat public offre la possibilité à chacun de participer à la décision finale.
Toute modification sera notifiée sur le site du débat   : http://www.debatpublic-nano.org/
Repost 0
16 novembre 2009 1 16 /11 /novembre /2009 09:43

  ... / ...
(cf. The overlapping stakes of security, defence and international responsibility in the field of convergent NBIC-type technologies (1) )


Details of the anticipated regulation


It is via a range of mechanisms- to create incentives, binding ones or even repressive ones- that the various planks of the extremely vast field of converging NBIC-type technologies should be regulated/controlled/governed, with the "normative" level of intervention to be situated at international level, at the level of the sovereign States or at regional level.


The challenges to security and defence brought about by NBIC-type technologies call for initiatives which are both global enough and specific enough to allow the various types of operators, national and international, public and private, involved in the processes of developing NBICs to maintain their action capacities under all possible sets of circumstances. Each of the agents involved in all or some of these activities must take the measure of the need to work to reinforce the overall coherence, effectiveness and efficiency of their regulatory activities, of their operational programming, dispute settlement, risk assessment and management activities, by such means as:


  * a better appreciation of the risk factors weighing on the performance of the financial, legal, scientific, technological and industrial policies implemented by (according to cooperative or competitive modes, governed by the conflicting nature of their individual interests) the various strategic players at global or regional level, the "technological States" and/or the "emerging" ones, and also the multinational companies and other international fund-providers which lead, abound and support the dynamics dedicated to the development of N&N (and of NBIC) ;

  * a re-examination of the treaties, conventions, regimes and other regulatory instruments in terms of laws or standards dedicated to security and safety concerns, particularly those raised above, whilst above all not jeopardising them;

a systematic review of programmes underway, such as programmes being developed to assess the potential impact of introducing NBIC-type technologies into the systems, equipment, goods and technologies they produce, again taking care not to jeopardise them ;

  * an analysis of the international, multilateral and regional regulatory frameworks of a sectorial nature (WTO, OECD, G8/G20, Economic Forum of Davos, etc.) which could have an impact on the regulatory processes more specifically dedicated, horizontally or sectorially, to the stakes of safety and security ;

  * and recourse to more effective forms of cooperation, coordination and exchanges of information, in order to guarantee better management of the information needed for the tracing/marking of these risk factors in their proliferation throughout the entire length of the value chain, and also to ensure the adequate prevention and management in the event of a crisis involving NBIC technologies.


It is quite clear that the anticipated reinforcement will be achieved first of all by the rapid plugging, at international, multilateral and regional level, of the gaps in regimes, treaties, authorities, methods, definitions, lists, etc which exist today, by acting in such a way as to ensure that the characteristics of the NBIC-type technologies (of their access, of their uses) are covered or that, in the event that this is not possible, additional specific measures, including vital conservatory measures, are taken.


The same is also true of all acts, positions, definitions, instruments, lists etc established by the European Union as regards the issue of nuclear safety and security, radiological, nuclear, biological and chemical security, and in terms of the transfer of goods and dual technologies, particularly in the framework of its strategy to fight the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.


It can also be achieved by greater efforts to seek coherence in decisions adopted by the major international and multilateral regulatory institutes whose job it is to take account of the impact on the world's society of global risks of a technological nature, and their more or less close correlations with other types of risks: geopolitical, economic or environmental (with regard to this, see, amongst others, the work of the Global Risks Network). This implies the need to design, at the level of States and regional institutions, appropriate organisations capable of reconciling each and every one of these imperatives throughout the entire value chain, from the prospective stage (exploratory and normative) to public decisions on regulation.


Lastly, it can be achieved by observing major principles in favour of a responsible use of nanotechnologies, identified in Germany, the United Kingdom and France, etc, and in the framework of international dialogue, particularly when it comes to risk assessment and management.


Even so, tackling regulatory activities surrounding NBICs from the point of view of risk alone is not in itself enough to establish the need for regulation in a variety of its objectives, conditions and details.


We must look at the issue from three points of view :


  * globally, identifying all the challenges (exposure) making up the possible interconnections of the risks and threats of a nanotechnological nature to biosecurity, cybersecurity, etc, with other types of vulnerabilities;

  * cybernetically, by carrying out a systematic analysis of the interactions between governing systems and governed systems, a dimension which returns us to the concerns of co-ownership, accountability, impact, social acceptability and the phenomenon of resilience;

  * and, lastly, dynamically, when trying to anticipate the dynamics by keeping an eye on the future and reflecting on which paths are more favourable to the improvements which must be made to the current legal, institutional and political corpus so that the European Union and its Member States have the weight they need in international debate on this issue.


We can already argue realistically that, certain exceptions aside (protecting the species as a species, human cloning, various issues of synthetic biology and advanced life engineering, the marketing of certain non-inert nanotechnological vectors and potential dynamics), it is neither conceivable to recommend recourse to the absolute primacy of a Malthusian principle of precaution, nor reasonable to think of a coherent body of universal and binding rules. It is, on the other hand, vital to adopt a full range of piloting methods: an "accelerator" (implying innovation in terms of funding, as in any cycle of economic growth); leadership capacity, to avoid the pitfalls; an emergency plan to ensure the capacity to develop legitimate constraints. By making sure that these instruments are developed and implemented at the right level, within the correct frameworks and by the best possible players.


Initiatives underway


Preparing a new action plan for the period 2010-2013, the European Commission is striving to consolidate the political, legal, organisational and programmatic basis of the strategic framework of the European Union for nanotechnologies in the extension of the strategy adopted by the Union in 2004 and the accompanying action plan for the period 2005-2009 :


  * the United States is working to set in place a new strategy in the field of science and technology to offer a new strategic framework for the design, development, sharing and use of new technologies, particularly in the field of nanotechnologies ;

  * several European States (Germany and the United Kingdom in particular) are undertaking to implement a raft of measures mostly designed to bring about the responsible use of nanotechnologies. At the same time, France is launching a broad national public debate on nanotechnologies, having decided on its national strategy in the field of research and innovation ;

  * the United States and the European Commission are carrying out joint reflection on a potential transatlantic cooperation dimension for the regulatory dynamic (see the recent document by Chatham House, "Securing the Promise of Nanotechnologies", September 2009, proposing, amongst other things, the creation of scientific 'building blocks' for the assessment of risks, the setting up of budgets for 'risk assessment', the institutional international governance mechanisms including the developing countries, without retaining the possibility of bringing in a new and binding legal regime) ;

  * UNESCO's World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology has called for the "development, extension, or even the revision of the established ethical principles which today govern science, in the light of new circumstances and new challenges arising from issues which have only recently been recognised as relevant by the international community, or which have arisen from scientific and technological progress which appears to threaten or destabilise the ethical principles or mechanisms (for example, nanoscience and the various nanotechnologies, particularly those related to other sectors of scientific and technological development, particularly life sciences)" (our translation) ;

  * the International Dialogue on Responsible Development of Nanoscience and Nanotechnologies, also known as the "Alexandria Process", for which the European Commission has received a general mandate from the European Council, has experienced significant success, leading it to hold its fourth session in Russia in February 2010.


All of these initiatives come on the eve of the- highly probable- implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon, and at a time when, simultaneously :


  * France and the United Kingdom are entering the operational base of the implementation of their new national security strategies, which call for increased integration between the military, civilian-military and civilian elements, implementing an 'intelligent and flexible' concept of power (seeking to express the new concept of "smart power") ;

  * the European Commission is adopting a raft of measures on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear safety, the result of broad consultation reflecting a consensus on the part of all stakeholders to protect the citizens of the EU from CBRN threats; the principal measure consists of an EU action plan in this area (prevention, detection, preparation and reaction) ;

  * the Council of the European Union is taking a number of decisions in the framework of CFSP relating, amongst other things, to support for the activities of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), in the fields of chemical weaponry and of biological security and safety in laboratories respectively, in the framework of the European Union's strategy to fight the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and to support EU activities aiming to promote controls on exports of weapons in third countries and the principles and criteria of the EU's code of conduct on exporting weaponry.


A Europe-wide recommendation, amongst others


In Europe, the multiplicity of legal acts, communications, studies, instruments, reports and other recommendations has not been enough to hide the methodological gaps regarding the problem of regulating the entire raft of activities within the field of NBIC-type converging technologies in the fields of security and defence- as the European Union has not yet made a commitment in favour of a dynamic in this area which is both voluntary and genuinely global, unlike the United States, for example. However, the European agenda on nanotechnologies will do much to favour the due account being taken of the overlapping stakes of security, defence and international responsibility in the field of converging NBIC-type technologies, to the extent that the 2005-2009 action plan is likely to be renewed for the period 2010-2013, with some possible changes.


Among all of the recommendations which feature in a report we wrote on this subject for the French Ministry of Defence, there is one which seems to us to illustrate the nature of the initiatives which must be taken as soon as possible in order to ensure that the various communities of parties, within the European Union - interested in questions raised by the need for the overlapping stakes of security, defence and international responsibility in the field of converging NBIC-type technologies to be taken into account - may collectively, and within the framework which has been designed to this effect, embrace all of these factors and try to bring to them, by means of dialogue, cooperation, coordination or any other appropriate means, common European responses, with a view to the strategic decisions which the Union will be called upon to take over the coming years.


It appears judicious that the European Commission should take the initiative to launch a preparatory action from 2010, which will be dedicated to the converging technologies and to synthetic biology, this latter field still requiring substantial investigation at Community level, particularly with regard to the overlapping factors of security, defence and international responsibility, beyond the issues of toxicity and eco-toxicity. An initiative of this kind could be based on the precedent of preparatory action on security research, premise for subsequent important European decisions in this area.


We believe that preparatory action of this kind should have the objective of initiating, within the Union, and extending those already in place for the benefit of nanoscience, nanotechnologies and new materials, a global dynamic which is capable of understanding, upstream and downstream, all of the challenges brought about by the emergence of converging NBIC-type technologies and synthetic biology, and to agree upon strategic orientations for: - research and innovation in these fields; - the characterisation of the objectives at stake (definition, measure, etc); - marketing; - analysis (identification, characterisation, assessment, tracing) and management of risks and threats - direct or indirect- these bring with them; - regulation at national, European, multilateral and international levels, and possible re-examination of existing regimes; - and the policies of the Union (competition, international trade, internal market, industrial policy, foreign policy, security policy, etc.).


There is no doubt that the prior publication of an appropriate communication by the European Commission, or even a White Paper, would do much to help set in place an initiative of this kind. This would require the broadest possible involvement of the Directorates General of the European Commission, the European Defence Agency and Community agencies with competency in security matters.


Dossier published by Agence Europe : EUROPE/Documents No. 2525 : The overlapping stakes of security, defence and international responsibility in the field of convergent NBIC-type technologies

COPYRIGHT AGENCE EUROPE© NOT AVAILABLE FOR RE-DISSEMINATION

Repost 0
Published by Patrice Cardot and Bertand de Montluc - dans Recherches - technologies et entreprises en action
commenter cet article
16 novembre 2009 1 16 /11 /novembre /2009 09:32
  1. Nanoscience and nanotechnology: accelerated development

     
    Nanoscience and nanotechnology (N&N) constitute new approaches to research and development (R&D), studying phenomena and human manipulation of matter at atomic, molecular and macromolecular level, at which the matter displays very different properties from those observed at larger scales. R&D and innovation in the field of N&N are at the origin of progress in a wide range of sectors. This progress may provide a response to the needs of citizens and make a contribution to the competitiveness and to the sustainable development objectives of the Union, and further a great many of its policies, such as public health, health and safety at work, the information society, energy, transport, security and space.

    This is particularly true of an area which is still little-known but emerging at a steady pace, from cross-fertilisation in research carried out in the areas of nanoscience, nanotechnology, biotechnology, life sciences, information technology, communications technology and cognitive science: the scope par excellence of the 'converging technologies', still known as NBIC (the acronym which now denotes the scientific area which involves nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science).


    The uncertainties entailed in the exponential development of the scientific activities, innovations and usages involved in this field are now central to long-term international reflection, particularly in the United States and Europe.

  2.  
    "While N&N is bringing about important advantages and benefits for our society that improve our quality of life, some risk is inherent, as for any technology, and this should be openly acknowledged and investigated upfront (...) health, safety and environmental risks that may be associated with products and applications of N&N need to be addressed upfront and throughout their life cycle". (Cf. The Communication COM(2005) 243 of 7 June 2005 of the European Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee entitled "Towards a European Strategy for Nanotechnology: European Action Plan for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (2005 - 2009)").


    With regard more specifically to security defined in terms of the security of people and of heritage- individual and collective- and of fundamental freedoms -public and private- although nanotechnology helps reinforce the means to fight against crime, terrorism and other acute forms of criminality, at the same time it arms those who intend to commit crimes of this kind and/or denials of democracy, seriously infringing fundamental freedoms. However, although the authorities responsible for the protection and controls in this field are able to manage visible processes, they have little power over the invisible or intangible processes, particularly those which could seriously damage fundamental freedoms.


    With the coming of N&N generally, therefore, and more specifically with the emergence of converging new technologies working towards a hybridisation between the natural and the artificial, there is also an increased and very real risk (and not just deviance) for security as well as for fundamental freedoms.


    The emergence of nanotechnology, and the associated risks and threats, in fact reveals a disharmony, a phase difference between, on the one hand, truth as portrayed by science, keeping the greatest possible distance from ideology and dogma and, on the other, the ideals of progress, development, freedom, equality, solidarity, security and justice, but also of power, born of a collective conscience and a cultural and political dynamic ceaselessly at work.


    The coming of the Internet, as a result of electronic microchips and then nanochips, played its part in turning international relations and the instruments of international regulation upside down and, consequently, the foreign and security policies of the States, their mechanisms and their instruments. David Howell (former British Energy and Transport Minister) said: "From the mid-1970s on, a succession of events made the old international agenda obsolete. The Cold War is now a memory even if its traumatic scars linger, and a mosaic of ethnic and nationalistic quarrels has long since replaced its old ideological divide. Power has shifted between capitals but has also been dispersed into internet linkages which have empowered almost half the human race, with still more communications innovations just ahead. These developments have shaken the international institutions of the 20th century to their foundations. The United Nations, the Bretton Woods Institutions, the World Trade Organisation, NATO and the nuclear non-proliferation regime, to name only the most prominent, have all come under intense scrutiny as to their purpose, structure and relevance. Neither the EU nor the political structures within its member states, have escaped the waves of questioning now reaching into almost every corner of human affairs and governance. This massive fluidity in international affairs confronts policymakers and those who would build more secure global structures with a set of entirely new complexities. For the EU, searching for a more focussed global and better co-ordinated role while at the same time trying to settle its own future, the situation presents challenges that are particularly acute". (See his article "How the microchip is changing the face of foreign policy
    "
    , which is published at www.europesworld.org).


    Extremely rapid development in a great many segments of human activity in nanotechnology and its uses, and the rapid development of converging NBIC technologies comes into this new context, symptomatic of the state of the world, and of international relations as things stand and are likely to remain during the first decades of the 21st century.


    NBIC-type technology itself is therefore becoming a factor of power and of strategic competition, which makes it likely to rear its head in proliferation, whilst the risks and threats that go with it, the nature of which may vary enormously, are not merely a matter for defence and security professionals, but are also of relevance to, more globally, the populations themselves, the species, life and, more broadly, nature in its biodiversity.


    Recent progress in the knowledge of human psychic, neuronal and immune processes, together with advances in genomics, prototype weaponry using converging nanotechnologies (or, at the very least, technologies involving either characteristics of nanometrics and biology, or characteristics of nanometrics and information technology) already favour the emergence of new opportunities, whilst at the same time giving rise to fears of the emergence and multiplication of risks and threats of another kind, which could jeopardise the security and defence systems of the States. The prospective development of autonomous military robots sheds much light on these fears.


    The ultra-miniaturisation of smart embedded electronic systems already allows the design, development, production and use, under operational conditions, of miniature drones with artificial intelligence- the size of an insect- and intelligent, communicating sensors, meaning that their servers do not need to be physically present in situ, whilst also allowing them to benefit from unparalleled agility and stealth, due to this miniaturisation taken to extremes, allowing high levels of agility, penetration and invulnerability. In addition, synthetic biology will give anyone able to master simulations and the scientific calculation of high-performance (vital) the potential to develop nano-biological threats which are as violent as they are unsuspected, in spite of the treaties in force. When integrated into ultra-mobile systems such as missiles, their effects on peace and security will be 'deterritorialised' (which will mean that everywhere in the world, any individual, any heritage, any sanctuary will be a potential target) and, at the same time, increased to planetary level by proliferation which knows no geographical borders and does not recognise the intangible borders of the restrictions of international law.


    These few examples shed some light on a number of future characteristics of the strategic and security environment as could result from a hazardous development of converging technologies; hazardous because insufficiently prepared, accompanied, piloted, mastered, regulated and/or controlled by the international institutions responsible for maintaining international peace and security, NATO (transformation process), and bodies within the European Union dedicated to the development of technological policy, and foreign and security policy- including weaponry capability.


    One might go so far as to say we are observing nothing less than the emergence of a new factor in military power and economic domination, equivalent to control over fire, the discovery of iron, the development of sailing ships, the invention of the internal combustion engine, machine-tools, nuclear energy and information and communication technologies in their time. We must now acknowledge that a hegemonic player will never have just one strategy, to go as far as possible and hold everybody else back, at the risk of seriously damaging safety and security.


    Given the unprecedented opening-up of a new technology on offer which is as abundant as it is unregulated, a technology which is increasingly available as access to the most revolutionary innovations has become commonplace. Ease of access has become amplified by economic and commercial competition surrounding products with an extremely high technological density. Controlling this access (to say nothing of the problem of equal access), and the issues of its use how this use is controlled are on the table.


    Wisdom dictates that one should not allow oneself to be overtaken by the unbridled progress of science and technology pushed by speculative movements of complex causes and uncertain goals, whilst at the same time striving not to open Pandora's box or unchaining Prometheus! However, the collective awareness of all or part of the potential challenges, both in terms of opportunities and of risks or threats, of this kind of technological effervescence is only recent, and has been little diffused within political, administrative, economic, financial, scientific, civilian or military elites. This is starting to develop within certain international organisations and fora (UN, UNESCO, World Health Organisation (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the European Union, the World Economic Forum in DAVOS).


    It remains to be verified whether this awareness has penetrated the fora and other bodies working for the establishment, implementation and monitoring compliance with international conventions on bans or limitations on the design, development, production, use or transfer of certain categories of weapons, goods, materials and technologies which are particularly critical in this regard (particularly in the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear fields- CBRN) and of the associated legal acts in place. Indeed, the unique properties attached to the physics and chemistry of materials at nanometric scale could bring in case studies of a new type which has not yet been covered, or not covered enough, by the various regimes and treaties in force.


    Regulatory stakes in relation to the converging NBIC-type technologies


    Today, the issue of whether or not there is a need for rules and regulations is increasingly relevant: the prospects are worrying enough to justify a normative effort, at the risk of a greater or lesser delay in the dissemination of innovations, to limit and/or control access to or the use of these, even though there is by no means unanimous agreement over the need for recourse to a system of governance.


    The international community must show great vigilance and, by means of national legislation and international law, prevent, without disproportionately hindering the functioning of international commerce and the transfer of technologies which is vital to a globalised economy, the design, development, production, sales and transfer of articles, matter, substances, goods and technologies which may be used to create technologies which give rise to fears of proliferation, as is currently the case in the registers.


    As Alain Joxe said in his publication entitled "La globalisation stratégique": "The erosion of all nation-States by the assaults of neo-liberal deregulation leaves the interdependence of the bulk violence of the new armaments and the mathematicised economy exposed. A new anthropology of the interaction of collective identities within conflictual, economic and military relations is needed" (our translation).


    The French President Nicolas Sarkozy has on several occasions stressed the need and the urgency to carry out a full renovation of the global system of governance with regard to the overall objectives laid down by the political decision-makers regarding international governance and regulation: "what is radically new about our time is that in spite of our different traditions and cultures, in spite of the reaffirmations of individual identities, the world has created its unity, our humanity is now one. The threats it is faced with are global. The responses will be global. The questions being put to the leaders of our time are weighty ones: will we, collectively, be able to give the responses needed to avoid the declines which would be fatal and continue humanity's march onward (...). We can no longer accept that programmes paid for by some are effectively dismantled by the decisions of others, due to a lack of coordination, or even disagreement, over the objectives" (our translation). (Conference of the ambassadors of 26 August 2009).


    This need and this urgency are keenly felt in the field of new nanometric technologies, as regards considerations which affect both security and defence issues. The objective of regulating the converging technologies is to create conditions in order to inspire "sustainable confidence" regarding the general safety of research and innovation activities in this sector, whose outlines are as fluid as they are extensive, and regarding the safety of derivative products and usages which could potentially feature in the fields of security and defence. This confidence is vital, not only to allow the international research and innovation movement to continue- a sine qua non condition for the creation of new knowledge and new sources of progress, growth, development and the economic and commercial competitiveness of goods and services with high levels of added value- but also for the credibility of the security strategies and systems deployed by the States.


    We have also to agree on the fields which may be covered by regulation of this kind, which must, of necessity, vary between the States and regions of the world.


    However, we must note that ideas are opposed to the terms and conditions of regulation of this kind, from the most restricted to the most permissive, and including self-regulation. Some countries will be more inclined to use laws and regulations, others prefer standards, others again will be open to proposals of international governance from institutions following the ranges of activities and finally, yet other, more "liberal" countries, will go no further than to implement codes of conduct and similar formulae, which are not, by their nature, legally binding.

     

    To this end, it has become vital to seek initially to create the conditions for the most realistic possible bottom line in terms of the 'risks' and 'benefits' of this development of the world, based around the coming nanometric dimension and, secondly, the conditions for regulation in line with the security and defence objectives previously laid down at the various relevant levels (international/multilateral, regional/European, national).

    ... / ... (cf. The overlapping stakes of security, defence and international responsibility in the field of convergent NBIC-type technologies (2) )

    Dossier published by Agence Europe : EUROPE/Documents No. 2525 : The overlapping stakes of security, defence and international responsibility in the field of convergent NBIC-type technologies 

                                            COPYRIGHT AGENCE EUROPE© NOT AVAILABLE FOR RE-DISSEMINATION

    Other papers about this issue (only in french language) :

     * Nouvelles sciences et technologies : enjeux de sécurité et problématique de responsabilité internationale 
     * L'évaluation des risques nanotechnologiques / Assessing the risks in nanotechnology 
     * A la recherche d'une pensée et d'une action politiques à la hauteur des défis globaux ! 
     * Du besoin de gouvernance des activités bio et nanotechnologiques convergentes 
     * UNESCO / : Commission Mondiale d'Ethique des Connaissances Scientifiques et des Technologies : Rapport sur l'Ethique des Sciences 
     * Risky business ? The EU, China and dual-use technology, by May-Britt Stumbaum (EUISS) 
     * Débat public sur les options générales en matière de développement et de régulation des nanotechnologies


Repost 0
Published by Patrice Cardot and Bertrand de Montluc - dans Recherches - technologies et entreprises en action
commenter cet article

Penser pour agir !

" Je préférerai toujours les choses aux mots,
et la pensée à la rime !
 "
 

(Voltaire)

 

" L'homme libre est celui qui n'a pas peur d'aller

jusqu'au bout de sa pensée "

(Léon Blum)

 

"La démocratie est d'abord un état d'esprit"

(Pierre Mendès France)  

 

 

Recherche

Catégories