Monday, August 25, 2003

Ministry of NanoTruth

From the ETC Group, which brought you such wonderfully titled reports as "Nanotech and the Precautionary Prince" and "Nanotech Un-gooed!" comes a more-subtle, softer title for an upcoming talk – "Nanotechnology: Atom and Eve in the Garden of Eden."

The September event, part of the Environmental Grantmakers Association's annual retreat, will feature a conversation between Foresight Institute founder Eric Drexler and ETC Group head Pat Mooney. I mention this in my column in Small Times magazine's upcoming September/October print edition (you may qualify for a free subscription; operators are standing by), but I had to point it out here, too. Here's part of the blurb promoting the talk:

"Recent studies indicate that nanoscale materials now being commercialized pose potential hazards for human health and the environment."

The "studies" were actually incomplete surveys of inconclusive toxicology reports, commissioned by ETC Group, itself. Even Greenpeace admits that no complete scientific study of the toxicity of nanomaterials has been yet been performed.

"Potential hazards." I suppose that's the environmental movement's equivalent of journalism's favorite word, "allegedly," which gives the illusion of absolving the writer if it turns out the allegations are flat-out wrong. For most responsible journalists, though, "allegedly" is used sparingly and only if the subject has been accused of a crime.

It doesn't matter, though. Like an "alleged murderer" who is later proven innocent, Nano's shady history as an "alleged polluter" is now a part of the permanent record of the information age and will be repeated in infinite news stories.

A less-subtle title for another Mooney speech, by the way, comes with an upcoming event at Regent's College in London, where he's scheduled to give a talk titled, "Small is Dangerous: The Threat of Nanotechnology."

The next issue of Small Times magazine will highlight how the ETC Group and others, buoyed by Greenpeace's entry into the nanotech debate, plan to increase their activism at various forums around the world.


P.S.: Come join the Slashdot fun on this one!

No comments: