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Shutdown of Nanotech Would Be Irresponsible and Dangerous

A decision to halt all research and development into nanotechnology would be irresponsible and dangerous, according to the non-profit Center for Responsible Nanotechnology, an independent policy research group. This statement comes in response to a lengthy report issued by the watchdog group ETC, which recommends that governments declare an immediate moratorium on commercial production of new nanomaterials.

“ETC’s report was wide-ranging, but perhaps too ambitious,” says Mike Treder, Executive Director of CRN. “Going from biotechnology to structural nanotechnology, and then all the way to molecular nanotechnology is inappropriate. It is frequently a mistake to generalize from one area of technology to another.”

Biotechnology is not the same as nanotechnology. Moreover, molecular nanotechnology (MNT) is quite distinct from structural nanotechnology (SNT). The technologies are so different that they must be analyzed and administered separately. In addition, it’s too early to recommend specific actions with regard to molecular nanotechnology.

“CRN is actively researching MNT policy issues. The first thing we learned is that simple solutions won’t work,” says Chris Phoenix, CRN’s Director of Research.

“We agree with many of the points made by ETC,” says Treder. “For example, it is vital that economic and humanitarian benefits from advanced nanotech accrue to all strata of world society. The quickest way to realize those benefits, however, is to put more emphasis on research and development, not less.”

CRN contends that ETC’s report went too far in calling for a complete moratorium. An attempted global shutdown of molecular nanotech development would not assure anyone’s safety or security. Rather, it would drive research underground and could result in a dangerous and unstable black market.

“We’ve done our own analysis of the Precautionary Principle and its relevance to nanotechnology,” says Phoenix. “There are ways to apply the Principle and allow the safe and effective use of nanotech, while still protecting users, developers, and innocent bystanders. That’s where our research is going.”




The Big Down (published by ETC Group)


Applying the Precautionary Principle to Nanotechnology (published by CRN)


Safe Utilization of Advanced Nanotechnology (published by CRN)

CRN was a non-profit research and advocacy organization, completely dependent on small grants and individual contributions.


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