Many developing countries have allocated significant amounts of funding for nanoscience and nanotechnology research, yet compared to developed countries, there has been little study, discussion, or debate over social and ethical issues. Using in-depth interviews, this study focuses on the perceptions of practitioners, that is, scientists and engineers, in one developing country: India. The disciplinary background, departmental affiliation, types of institutions, age, and sex of the practitioners varied but did not appear to affect their responses. The results show that 95% of the Indian practitioners working in the area of nanoscience and nanotechnology research recognized ethical issues in this research area, and 60% of them could offer specific examples, which included possible ill effects on environment and human, use as a weapon, hype, professional ethics, laboratory testing on animals, cyborgs, widening the gap between rich and poor, self-replication, and longevity of human life. The results may offer opportunities for future cross-cultural research, as well as offer examples that can be used to raise the awareness of other practitioners in India and elsewhere regarding the importance of ethical issues.
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We are thankful to the Indian scientists and engineers, who participated in this study, for their valuable time and opinions. We thank Prof. Prajit K. Basu, Department of Philosophy, University of Hyderabad for his contribution to this study. We thank Dr. Abani K. Pradhan for providing valuable insights to draft versions of this paper. We thank Michael Skavarla of Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility, Cornell University for introducing the concept of ‘cyborg insects’ to us. We are also thankful to the anonymous reviewers for their suggestions.
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Patra, D., Haribabu, E. & McComas, K.A. Perceptions of Nano Ethics among Practitioners in a Developing Country: A Case of India. Nanoethics 4, 67–75 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11569-010-0086-7