X-Message-Number: 21171
From: "Mark Plus" <>
Subject: Nanotechnology next Luddite target?
Date: Fri, 14 Feb 2003 09:04:19 -0800

Is anyone else on this list paying attention to the fact that the people in 
the "bioethics" hustle are now targeting nanotech research for prohibition? 
The question below about "cyborganization" has already been answered, of 
course. Nobody thinks people with defibrillators or cochlear implants have 
become "dehumanized" because they bear implanted computer chips, though some 
christian prophecy kooks identify chip implants with the biblical "Mark of 
the Beast" in the book of Revelation.-- Mark Plus


Nanotechnology Confrontation Is Looming
Betterhumans Staff
[Friday, February 14, 2003] Long ignored by groups opposed to biotechnology, 
nanotechnology research and development has been rapidly growing unfettered. 
But a new report from a leading bioethics group warns that this is about to 
change, and that a looming confrontation could derail a major scientific 

"The only way to avoid a GM foods-style confrontation is to take immediate 
steps to close the gap between the science and ethics of nanotechnology," 
says Abdallah Daar, coauthor of the report, which is published in the 
journal Nanotechnology.

Daar and colleagues from the University of Toronto Joint Centre for 
Bioethics claim that while nanotechnology is in its infancy and most 
applications are decades away, a backlash against the technology is 
gathering momentum and needs to be addressed.

"It is to be expected that a technology that promises to make massive 
changes in our lives would be viewed with suspicion and, perhaps, outright 
fear," says report coauthor Peter Singer. "Open public discussion of the 
benefits and risks of this new technology is urgently needed."

Research and development

The paper cites the fact that most industrialized countries are investing 
heavily in nanotechnology research and development while there has been 
relatively little consideration of the ethical, environmental, economic, 
legal and social implications of the technology.

Between 1997 and 2002, the paper notes, nanotechnology research and 
development has increased dramatically worldwide (all figures in US 

USA: From $432 million to $604 million
Western Europe: From $126 million to more than $350 million
Japan: From $120 million to $750 million
South Korea: From nothing to $100 million
Taiwan: From nothing to $70 million
Australia: From nothing to $40 million
China: From nothing to $40 million
The rest of the world: From nothing to $270 million

While there was little opposition to such growth in the past, there are 
signs of change.


In early February, Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration -- 
the group that helped stop Monsanto's research into the creation of 
bioengineered plants with so-called "Terminator Technology" -- released a 
report calling for a moratorium on the commercial production of new 
nanomaterials, an international forum for evaluating new technologies and 
United Nations-led monitoring of corporations working with new technologies.

The report was criticized by nanotechnology experts, but showed that 
veterans of the biotechnology wars have a new target.

"Calls for a moratorium on deployment of nanomaterials should be a wake-up 
call for nanotechnology developers," says Daar.

Questions to ask

The Nanotechnology paper sets out a number of questions that its authors say 
need to be addressed now:

Equity: Who will benefit from nanotechnology? Can we ensure that developing 
countries benefit?

Privacy and security: How will such things as invisible microphones and 
cameras affect the protection of privacy? Will nanotechnology offer 
increased security or nano-terrorism? Who regulate military nanotechnology 

Environment: What are the effects of nanomaterials on the environment?

Cyborgization: How will people react to the implantation of artificial 
materials or machines?

Besides laying out such questions, the paper calls for people to heed 
lessons from genomics and biotechnology.

Specifically, it cites a need for a consultation process involving 
developing countries, scientists, interest groups, government, industry and 
the public.

Dealing with danger

In a statement to Betterhumans, the nonprofit policy research group Center 
for Responsible Nanotechnology says that the dangers of nanotechnology are 

"CRN is deeply concerned about the potential for abuse of nanotechnology. 
Dangerous misuse of advanced nanotech can come from a variety of quarters, 
not only from terrorists or criminals, but also from rogue military, 
political establishments, big industry or reckless individuals. Damage of 
many kinds -- economic, environmental, human rights -- must be contemplated 
and averted," says the group.

But CRN says that its research suggests extremist solutions such as 
moratoriums or bans could be dangerous.

"Though perhaps well-motivated, calls for complete relinquishment of the 
technology are no less danger-provoking, and irresponsible, than is the cry 
for entirely unfettered development," CRN says. "A patchwork of extremist 
solutions to the wide-ranging risks of advanced nanotechnology is a grave 
danger. All areas of society stand to be affected by molecular 
manufacturing, and unless comprehensive international plans are developed, 
the multiplicity of cures could be worse than the disease. The threat of 
harm would almost certainly be increased, while many extraordinary benefits 
could go unrealized."

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