Nanotechnology and Patents - How can Potential Risks be Assessed?
Increasingly, food and agricultural industries are gearing up to use nanotechnological innovations to expand
their already multi trillion dollar industries globally. The scientific community has identified a number of serious issues
relating to risk assessments of nanomaterials such as the difficulty of characterising, detecting and measuring nanomaterials,
as well as a lack of sufficient toxicology data. Apart from the scientific issues surrounding risk assessment, public acceptance
of nanotechnology itself and nanofoods in particular continues to be elusive. This paper addresses the need to
expand concepts of risk to include intangible or moral risk in the assessment of nanotechnologies. ‘Intervention’ points
along the innovation chain are explored, where an expanded risk assessment could be applied, with a particular focus on
the patent system.
Keywords: Food, nanotechnology, order public, patents, risk assessment, Nanomaterials, lemon oil, transgenic animals, food packaging, nanofoods.
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