Thursday, August 19, 2004

Please send fear in lieu of facts

Nanofear (Forbes)

    The science of small might have a big problem. His name is Pat R. Mooney, and he is a high school dropout from Canada with no scientific training. Yet his Ottawa organization, the ETC Group, is widely credited with being one of the first to raise health and environmental concerns about genetically modified food. Its efforts, along with those of other outfits like Greenpeace, led to a public relations fiasco for the biotech industry. In Europe the name Monsanto, which sells genetically modified seed, still exemplifies the ugly American multinational. Because of the fear Mooney helped generate, Nestlé and others don't sell food with GM ingredients in Europe. Restaurants post signs assuring customers meals are virtually GM-free.

    Now Mooney, 57, has set his target on nanotechnology, the business of manufacturing on a molecular scale. Nanoparticles are already used in drugs, cosmetics, food additives and baby products. Nanotech has brought us the mundane--Eddie Bauer's $49.50 Nano-Care khakis that resist stains and wrinkles--but also promises profound advances like cancer drugs that hunt through your body for tiny tumors.

    ... There has been scant peer-reviewed scientific research on possible nanoparticle risk, maybe four dozen studies, according to Kristen Kulinowski of Rice University's Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology. But Mooney's claims are backed by just enough science to generate headlines--and fear. Over the last 24 months he has met with interest groups in Thailand and Chile, regulators in Washington and Brussels and scientists in Houston and Cape Town. His goal: to spread the word of risks and persuade regulators to declare a moratorium on new nanotechnology research until there is an established protocol for safety and a public discussion on the impact of the technology. "We're saying this is going to be the biggest technological change you've ever seen," says Mooney, "and you need to start paying attention." More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
WSJ is down with nano
Are nanoparticle studies 'one decade late'?
More on Mooney, etc.

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