Monday, May 10, 2004

Fish tale retold, but maybe not reinsured

My old friend, colleague and former Small Times correspondent Avi Machlis is a news editor at Bloomberg now, and he gave me a sneak peak at this story earlier today. He asked for some sources, but it looks like the story moved before they could be contacted. There might be further rewrites.

It's essentially the "buckyball fish" story recycled, this time with the Swiss Reinsurance Co., the world's No. 2 reinsurer, saying they might reconsider covering products that incorporate nanotechnology. The reason? The fish.

    Minute particles created with nanotechnology and used in certain sun-screens, computer-chips, drugs and coatings in the aerospace industry, can be easily absorbed by the body, said Annabelle Hett, Swiss Re risk specialist, at a conference in London about potential risks of the technology. They accumulate in organs and may have chronic effects, she added.

    "You could wake up and have a huge wave of claims potentially and so you need to react now," said Hett. "Insufficient research has been done to identify whether products containing nanoparticles actually pose a threat." More here

As I've said before, perception of risk -- never mind actual risk -- is enough to have an impact on actual business.

Update: Here's a link to the report: Nanotechnology - Small matter, many unknowns

Another Update: Avi tells me they got in touch with one of the sources I recommended as a voice for the nanotech industry: Charles Gause of Luna Innovations. They've updated the story with Gause's comments.

    Following the fish study, there needs to be more supporting data," rather than an "emotional" response, said Charles Gause a vice-president at Virginia-based Luna Innovations, a nanotechnology research and manufacturing company. "There's been a lot of conjecture from the scientific community," he said. More here
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