Nanotechnology is often promoted as a means to end hunger, dramatically reduce disease, or even to overcome poverty – in short, as a boon for the world’s poorest people. However, in a new book chapter, we observe that to date nanotechnology development reflects the financial, political and military priorities of the companies and governments driving it. We suggest that rather than overcoming inequity, nanotechnology could make existing inequalities worse.

The book chapter is written by Friends of the Earth Australia’s Georgia Miller in collaboration with Dr Gyorgy Scrinis from the University of Melbourne.

Miller, G. and Scrinis, G. “Nanotechnology and the transformation and extension of inequity”. Chapter 7 in, S.E. Cozzens, J.M. Wetmore (eds.), Nanotechnology and the Challenges of Equity, Equality and Development, Yearbook of Nanotechnology in Society 2, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-9615-9_7, Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

The abstract of the book chapter is found below:

While the authors that have contributed to this book believe that furthering the cause of equity is a laudable goal, there are many people who benefit from existing unequal political arrangements. In this chapter, Georgia Miller and Gyorgy Scrinis argue that many of those currently directing the future of nanotechnology have a strong incentive to maintain these patterns of unequal distribution. They note that nanotechnology is arising from actions that align it with powerful economic and political interests in the Global North. Despite paying lip service to studying the “ethical, legal, and social implications” of nanotechnology, those who are driving the rapid expansion of nanotechnology have not shown any genuine commitment to reorienting the enterprise to human needs or a more equal society. Given the power disparities between nano advocates and critics, Miller and Scrinis find it improbable that there will be any fundamental realignment. In a sense Miller and Scrinis offer a challenge to all the authors in the volume to find ways to break through the barriers to equity.—eds.


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