Two important attempts to forward society's engagement with radical technological changes that are being allowed to run way ahead of our ability to deal with the profound issues and consequences they are generating.  

1.Ethics Café: Who's Afraid of Designer Babies?
2.European Seminar on Nanotechnology ***REGISTER NOW***
1.Ethics Café:  *Tuesday 3rd June 2003*
Who's Afraid of Designer Babies?
Bulletin of Medical Ethics

A discussion about the right to choose your baby and the eugenics of choice

Dr Bill Albert, a disabled activist and member of the government's Human Genetics Commission, will lead a dialogue on issues such as:

* Do you want a society that selects and rejects embryos according to their genetic make-up?
* Does the choice to abort a disabled foetus make eugenics acceptable in our society?

This will be the first in a series of Ethics Cafes concerned with human genetics and medical ethics issues.  Following the historical example of French philosophers, and with the more recent proliferation of "Science Cafes" around Britain, these informal and free of charge events will be held on a monthly basis in a bar in Islington. They are being run by Human Genetics Alert in collaboration with the Bulletin of Medical Ethics.  

The aim of these events is to increase public engagement with and debate on social and ethical issues of our time. A speaker will lead the dialogue on a particular issue by highlighting the main arguments surrounding the topic. The audience is encouraged to discuss and question the issues further.
This free discussion event will take place at 6.30pm on Tues 3rd June 2003
Bierodrome, 173-4 Upper Street, Islington N1
If you would like more information about this event or about joining Human Genetics Alert, please call us on 020 7704 6100,  or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2.European Seminar on Nanotechnology and Converging Technologies
being held on June 11th in Brussels - European Parliament.

On 11 June 2003  you are invited to  join leading civil society experts as well as a cross-party group of MEP's for a groundbreaking conference in the European Parliament in Brussels to address the societal, ethical, health and environmental implications of Nanotechnology.

Please find below the latest details of this European Seminar on Nanoetchnology and Converging Technologies, including an agenda and some background on the speakers. This conference is free to public, civil society groups, policymakers and the media however, due to the security requirements of the European parliament is essential that you register beforehand. If you decide that you would like to register  please send the following information to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.:

- your name
- your date of birth (this is neccessary in order to obtain a security pass for the Parliament)
- your home address (this is neccessary in order to obtain a security passfor the Parliament)
- Your job title / area of work
- any special access or language needs you have
- contact details including email.

About Nanotechnology:
Nanotechnology, the manipulation of atoms and molecules, is set to become the defining technology of the new century. By rebuilding nature atom by atom and exploiting the properties of quantum physics,scientists are engineering novel materials and biomechanical devices placing unprecedented industrial power in the hands of some of the worlds largest companies and the military.

Current global spending on nanotech (public and private) is in excess of US$4 billion and rising. Over 30 national governments have now launched nanoscience initiatives, with Europe, USA and Japan competing for the lead.

An estimated five hundred nanotech companies are active throughout Europe, North America and Asia including leading transnationals such as BASF, L' Oreal, Bayer, Exxon, IBM and Hewlett Packard. Their nanotech particles are already used in cosmetics, clothing, windows, sports goods and amunitions. By 2015 global nanotech-related sales are predicted to exceed $1 trillion per year (US National Science Foundation) with all sectors of the economy being affected - from electronics and computing, defence and weaponry to energy,agriculture, pharmaceuticals, fabrics and cosmetics.

Like nuclear power, computing and genetic engineering before it, the ability to atomically modify matter - both living and non-living - will alter our societies, our economies and even our sense of ourselves. The nanotech revolution, however, is currently evolving quietly beneath the radar screens of government regulators and the public alike. No regulatory body has taken the lead to ensure that nanotech applications are safe and many of the hard questions have not yet been asked: Who will control nanotechnology? Who will determine the research agenda and who will benefit from nano-scale technologies? What mischief can synthetic nanoparticles create floating around in our ecosystem, our food supply and in our bodies? What happens when human-made nanoparticles are small enough to slip past our immune systems and enter living cells? What might be the socioeconomic impacts of this new industrial revolution? How will countries in the South be affected? How will the poor, excluded and disabled be affected? Should governments apply the Precautionary Principle?

About the conference:
On June 11, 2003 a range of parliamentarians and expert speakers will describe the current state of nanotechnology, examine its risks and promises and propose steps toward regulating this powerful new technology. Speakers at this groundbreaking seminar will include well known Indian ecologist and physicist Dr Vandana Shiva, leading UK toxicologist Dr Vyvyan Howard, arms control expert Dr Jurgen Altmann and civil society speakers from Greenpeace and ETC Group including Right Livelihood Award winner Pat Mooney. The seminar is intended for policy makers and civil servants from European institutions and national governments as well as for representatives of civil society and the media. It is sponsored by ETC Group, Greenpeace, Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, Genewatch UK, Clean Production Action and The Greens in the European Parliament.

On June 12 there will also be a smaller private meeting for civil society organisations only to discuss the implications of nanotechnology. if you represent a civil society group and are interested in attending this second day contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

When and Where:

Wednesday June 11th 2003 - Draft Agenda

10.30 am - Press Conference in The European Parliament.

Room ASP 1E2 of the European Parliament, Rue Wiertz (Metro: Trone or Maelbeek) in Brussels. To begin at 1.45 p.m.

13:45 Registration at the European Parliament ASP building rue Wiertz, Brussels
14:00 Welcome and introductory remarks by Dr Yves Pietrasanta MEP (Greens, France, Vice Chair ITRE committee of EP)
PANEL I chaired by MEP Eryl McNally
14.15 What is Nanotechnology - an overview. Hope Shand (ETC Group)
14.55 Nanoparticles, nanomaterials and toxicity concerns - Dr Vyvyan Howard (University of Liverpool)
15.15 The current approach of the European Union to Nanotechnology Research and Development - Dr Renzo Tomellini (European Commission - DG Research)
15.30 Implications for the Developing World - Dr Vandana Shiva (Research Foundation on Science and Technology, India)  15.50 Questions
16.00 - Coffee break
PANEL II chaired by MEP tba.
16.15 Implications of Nanotechnology for Security and Disarmament. Dr Juergen Altman (University of Dortmund)
16.35 Are there policy lessons from previous technology controversies?: Nuclear, Chemicals, GMO's. Dr Doug Parr (Greenpeace)
16.55 Implications of technological convergence for trade, economies and employment. Pat Mooney (ETC Group)
17.15 Questions
17.30 Implications for Policymakers - Reflections on the presentations by Anders Wijkman MEP (EPP, Sweden), Caroline Lucas MEP (UK, Greens), Eryl McNally MEP (UK, Labour) and panel discussion with all speakers.
Chaired by Caroline Lucas MEP
18.15 pm Closing remarks by Dr Yves Pietrasanta MEP.
About the speakers:
Patron: Dr Yves Pietrasanta, MEP - Greens/EFA - Dr Pietrasanta is a chemist by training and also one of France's leading environmentalists, founder of l' Institut Francais de l'Environnement (IFEN) of which he is Honorary President. He is currently Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy in the European Parliament.
Eryl McNally, MEP - UK Labour/Socialist ? Eryl Mc Nally is senior Vice-President of the Scientific and Technological Options Assessment (STOA) panel within the European Parliament. She is also a full member of the Committee for Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy, co-ordinator on this committee for the Party of European Socialists as well as substitute Member of the Committee for Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities. She takes a leading in interest on questions of technology, renewable energy and the environment within the Parliament and is President of the European Forum for Renewable Energy Sources.
Dr Anders Wijkman, MEP - Christian Democrats - Dr Wijkman is currently Vice Chairman of the Committee on Development and Cooperation and sits on the Committee for Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy. He is a former Secretary General of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, Swedish Red Cross and was Assistant UN Secretary-General, Head of Policy at the UN Development Programme and a member of the influential Club of Rome. He is a member of the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences.
Dr Caroline Lucas, MEP - Greens/EFA - Dr Lucas is an expert in trade and development issues. She is a member of the Committee for Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy, the Environment Committee and the Committee for Regional Policy and Transport as well as Intergroups on Peace Issues and Consumer Affairs.
Dr Renzo Tomellini is head of the unit responsible for Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies in the European Commission (DG Research) that is a priority area within the 6th Framework Programme. He is a person of contact concerning nanotechnology research in the European Union. A Chemist by training, he has deposited 4 patent applications, published some 45 articles, drafted 4 standards on analysis and measurements, edited 11 books, created one newsletter and 2 webpages, and realised 2 films (a third one is currently in realisation) on science and research issues.
Pat Roy Mooney - ETC Group. Pat Mooney is Founder and Executive Director of ETC Group and past recipient of the Right Livelihood Award (the "alternative Nobel Prize"). He has written extensively on the impact of converging technologies on society, culture and democracy.
Dr Vandana Shiva - Internationally renowned ecologist and physicist from India. Dr. Shiva is also a former Right Livelihood Award recipient. Dr Shiva is Founder and Executive Director of The Research Foundation On Science and Technology, which offers a Southern perspective on new technologies and development.
Dr Juergen Altman - University of Dortmund. Dr Altman is an international expert on disarmament policy and the leading commentator on the implications for peace and security of military nanotech applications, present and future.
Dr Vyvyan Howard - University of Liverpool. Dr Howard is a toxicologist and immediate past president of the Royal Microscopy Society (UK). He is co-editor of the first collection of scientific papers to address the toxicity of nanoparticles and a leading worldwide expert on the matter.
Dr Doug Parr - Greenpeace. A chemist by training Dr Parr is chief scientific advisor to Greenpeace UK. He has had a long involvement in science and technology policy issues including nuclear power, chemicals policy and GM foods. He is responsible for Greenpeace's tracking of nanotechnology issues.
Hope Shand - ETC Group. Research Director and principal author of "The Big Down" - a recent civil society report providing an introduction to nanotechnology.

Delegates are asked to book their own accommodation for the duration of the conference. However, we are currently looking into affordable and well-situated options and will send a list of hotels as soon as possible.

We are looking forward to what will be a dynamic and important event in terms of understanding this emerging technology and its implications. We already have about half of spaces filled with delegates from across Europe and from a wide range of civil society, governmental and policy perspectives. If you know of any other individuals or organisations that you think might be interested in participating, please let me know, or feel free to forward this email.

This event is free however it is necessary to register in advance. Please send the information mentioned at the top of this email in order to register fully. If you represent a civil society organization that is unable to afford travel or find accommodation in Brussels there is a very small budget available for travel assistance. Please do contact me for more information about this.

We look forward to hearing from you.
Rosie Harford and Jim Thomas
European Programme, ETC Group
(Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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ETC Group
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9 Park End Street,
OX1 1HH,
phone: +44 (0)1865 207818
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