Friends of the Earth has today launched a new campaign for the precautionary regulation and testing of emerging technologies. The Emerging Tech Project will predominantly focus on nanotechnology, geoengineering [1] and synthetic biology [2] and maintain a watch on other technologies as they emerge and develop.

Jeremy Tager, Emerging Tech campaigner with Friends of the Earth said “Friends of the Earth has had a nanotechnology campaign for nearly a decade now. We decided to make this transition because we are now seeing a suite of new technologies of unprecedented power and scale emerge in Australia and globally.

“It is critical that we don’t allow the continued commercialisation of incredibly powerful – and risky – technologies with little or no testing or public or regulatory oversight. We need to ensure these technologies are developed, tested and used in the public interest – not in the interests of large corporations.

“The push to commercialise nanotechnology has far outstripped environmental, health and safety testing and regulatory intervention. We don’t want the same to happen with other powerful and potentially extremely dangerous technologies such as synthetic biology and geoengineering,” said Mr Tager.

As part of the launch of our new campaign, the Emerging Tech Project commissioned experts from around the world to write about some of the issues associated with the corporate control of emerging technologies for Friends of the Earth’s magazine Chain Reaction.

“We have revealed a disturbing picture of unregulated research and regulators captive to corporate commercial interests,” Mr Tager concluded.

[1] Geoengineering is manipulation of the earth’s climate at a global scale. There are a variety of proposals for controlling climate and solving climate change
[2] Synthetic biology is an extreme form of genetic engineering that involves re-engineering and designing genes to create new synthetic organisms that do not exist in nature