The Riskiest Aspect of Nanotech is…Investment?

The Wilson Center’s Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies reports that “Nanotechnology Doesn’t Make News

As part of their project, the center have looked at press coverage of nanotechnologies. Sensibly, they have concentrated on mainstream media rather than specialist publications. The report makes fascinating reading, especially the comment that “Twenty-fourpercent of U.S. news items noted a risk — with investment risk cited most often (35%).”

The study also notes that “health and environmental risk coverage has been generally positive, even when containing negative information” although while “news stories were overall balanced, article headlines were not” – giving credence to the old adage that bad news sells newspapers.

It probably comes as a shock to many in the nanotech community to hear expressions such as the “current public calm surrounding nanotechnology,” but as the study shows, most people don’t know or care about nanotechnologies. It would be interesting to see the results of a similar study on, for example, Biotech, to determine whether this is an issue common to all new technologies, or peculiar to nanotech.

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