Nanotechnology is forecast to underpin “the next industrial revolution”, leading to far-reaching changes in social, economic and ecological relations. Yet whereas the health and environment risks posed by nanomaterials are attracting an increasing amount of attention, there is still little discussion of the potential for nanotechnology to result in large-scale social disruption. Friends of the Earth has just released a new Issue Summary "The disruptive social impacts of nanotechnology" (download below) which discusses the sorts of social changes and challenges that nanotechnology is likely to bring.
The new National Nanotechnology Strategy Taskforce report "Options for a National Nanotechnology Strategy", released by Industry Minister Macfarlane on 12 September, fails to address the most significant public interests issues raised by nanotechnology, suggesting that the Federal Government is setting itself up for a repeat of the backlash that greeted genetically engineered foods.
By Georgia Miller. Reprinted from New Matilda 8 September 2006.
Unaccompanied by regulatory oversight or public debate, the nanotechnological revolution has begun.
Several hundred consumer products now include engineered nanoparticles. Global sales of nanoproducts were worth US$32 billion last year and are forecast to grow to US$1 trillion by 2011. But if you’ve failed to notice that the science of the small has left the lab, you’re not alone. Nanotechnology is being commercialised outside of general public awareness or debate, without any serious attempt to involve the community in decision making about its introduction, and in the absence of regulatory oversight to protect workers, the public and the environment from nanotechnology’s risks.