The GMO-nanotech (dis)analogy?

A new paper in the Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society argues that “the analogy between the commercial development of GMOs and nanomaterials is weak at best and does little to advance a productive discussion about nanotechnology.”

It is a fair point, and one that merits further discussion. Much debate over the safety of nanotechnologies has been framed in the context of how to avoid adverse public reactions, see for example the “green nanotech” project. On the other hand some pressure groups have done their utmost to link nanotech with GMOs, leading to the kind of response the authors criticize.

As with many areas of technology, there are positive and negatve aspects, and many of these will not be fully revealed for many years. In the meantime, either canonizing or demonizing the entire field of nanotechnology will continue to be counterproductive.

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