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The Molecular Economy And Legal Challenges


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Business and legal challenges in the new economy of biotech and nanotech in a global context.

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The Molecular Economy And Legal Challenges

  1. 1. The Molecular Economy: Global Consequences and Legal Challenges In Asia by Greg Beatty The Challenge of Law in Asia: From Globalization to Regionalization? Bangkok
  2. 2. Agenda <ul><li>What is the Molecular Economy? </li></ul><ul><li>Why is the Molecular Economy relevent to lawyers and law professors in Asia? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the Legal Challenges in Asia? </li></ul><ul><li>Globalization to Regionalization? </li></ul><ul><li>“ Our most powerful 21 st -century technologies – robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech – are threatening to make humans an endangered species” Bill Joy, </li></ul><ul><li>former Chief Scientist, </li></ul><ul><li>Sun Microsystems </li></ul>
  3. 3. Thesis: The ME is Relevant to the Asian Legal Community <ul><li>Asia is on the cutting edge: </li></ul><ul><li>Researchers at Hanyang University in South Korea successfully create human embryos through cloning </li></ul><ul><li>Suranaree University of Technology in Thailand has successfully cloned sixteen claves and a Brahman ox </li></ul>
  4. 4. Molecular Economy Initiatives in Asia <ul><li>Atomic Force Microscope purchases: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>USA: 1,699 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>China: 54 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Taiwan: 115 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>India: 7 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Japan: 1,083 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>South Korea: 69 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Singapore: 40 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Australia: 33 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Source: The ETC Group, 2003 </li></ul>
  5. 5. Why is the Molecular Economy Important? <ul><li>New ethical debates of how we want to progress </li></ul><ul><li>Legal issues will become increasingly steeped in science, technology and ethics </li></ul><ul><li>Is the interface between technology and law awry? </li></ul>
  6. 6. The Molecular Economy Defined <ul><li>What is the Molecular Economy? </li></ul><ul><li>Two technological themes in this Molecular Economy: </li></ul><ul><li>(i) scientists are acquiring a greater understanding of the molecules that control chemical and biological functions </li></ul><ul><li>(ii) the super-miniaturization of manufacturing </li></ul>
  7. 7. Is the Molecular Economy Relevant to Lawyers Now? <ul><li>“ W ith the knowledge of how to split an atom, we can release immense energy from materials, and with the capability to manipulate genes we can practically create new life forms. Our dilemma is made more urgent from the fact that we now have the technological capability to do things that we do not yet know for sure are good, bad, right or wrong.” </li></ul><ul><li>Yongyuth Yuthavong, </li></ul><ul><li>Senior Researcher, </li></ul><ul><li>Thailand Biotec Center </li></ul>
  8. 8. The Molecular Economy Technologies <ul><li>What is biotechnology? </li></ul><ul><li>The simulation and manipulation of the fundamental life processes at the cellular and molecular levels </li></ul><ul><li>The use of biology for technology, using living organisms and their parts to produce useful products and services </li></ul><ul><li>What is nanotechnology? </li></ul><ul><li>The word “nano” describes physical scale, derived from the Greek word “nanos”, meaning “dwarf” </li></ul><ul><li>One billionth of a meter, or approx. 1/50,000 of the width of a human hair </li></ul><ul><li>How are they different from other emerging technologies of the past? </li></ul>
  9. 9. The Molecular Economy Technologies – cont’d <ul><li>What is the impact of convergence? </li></ul><ul><li>A new social configuration of sciences accelerates discovery and the ability to engineer living matter at the molecular level </li></ul><ul><li>What is the significance to the legal community? </li></ul>
  10. 10. The Leading Regional Issues for Asia <ul><li>Agri-business </li></ul><ul><li>The Hamlet dilemma re Natural Resources: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To Protect or Not to Protect? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To Exploit or Not to Exploit? </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Legal Challenges <ul><li>How to assess risk appropriately </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What are the targets? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who should be regulated – Developers? Sellers? Users? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Precautionary principle? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How to create a level playing field in a global context </li></ul><ul><li>How to gain a better understanding the science, technology and ethics </li></ul>
  12. 12. Globalization to Regionalization? <ul><li>Asia’s Response </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Soft Law </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A broad set of rules, principles and guidelines </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Non-binding </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Governance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Considers legal, philosophical and social issues within a broad regulatory framework </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Non-binding </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Flexible </li></ul></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Next Steps <ul><li>In this techno-centric world , legal practitioners are no longer just being asked to be mere legal experts on Black Letter Law or be effective dispute resolvers; we are being asked to assume the role of public philosophers and techno-futurists. </li></ul><ul><li>Currently, few lawyers, judges and academics worldwide are prepared for the challenge of steering societies through the technological trajectories that are being posed in the Molecular Economy. </li></ul>