"Regulating Nanotechnology and Designing the NGOs of
the Future"

This article parts from some very na´ve and uninformed
assumptions, which become painfully evident toward the

The last four paragraphs are worth quoting in full:

"There is a profound risk that NGO response to
nanotechnology will continue the approach it has so
far taken: simple opposition to the technology, being
merely a "No" in response to business' "Yes."
(Greenpeace has attempted to be smart about the issue
but unfortunately they don't have much company.) That
would be a disaster.

"As Stewart Brand says about biotechnology, "The best
way for doubters to control a questionable new
technology is to embrace it, lest it remain wholly in
the hands of enthusiasts who think there is nothing
questionable about it."

"We need a new generation of emerging technology
activists: not just NGOs and networks of citizens
concerned about nanotech, but also advocates for
better biotech, robotics, ubiquitous computing, space
programs, deep ocean exploration, climate
interventions and human life span extension

"We need heroic geek NGOs that can wrestle with issues
we're only beginning to understand, and can both use
strategic anticipation to change the debate, and
strategic communication to help the rest of us
understand what's at stake. We, in turn, all need to
learn more about these technologies, to be able to
discuss them intelligently and to sway those working
in these fields to become partners in efforts to
unleash these revolutions the right way. Because
making smart choices about emerging technologies may,
in the end, be the tipping factor that proves the
difference between a bright green future, and no
future at all."


The article really does not question whether bio and
nano technologies should be developed. The author's
foregone conclusion is that these technologies will
and must be developed. Since these technologies and
their basic assumptions are not submitted to any
serious questioning, there really is nothing here that
would trouble the Monsantos and Syngentas of the
world. They can live with this type of techno-geeky

How interesting that the author calls for "heroic
NGO's" that can engage technology issues in an
intelligent manner. Do they not exist? What about the
35 civil society organizations that launched an open
letter on synthetic biology last May?

The fact is that the biotech industry has nothing    
to fear from this type of techno discourse that seeks
to stake out a "middle ground" and advocates
"responsible" bio and nano techs. It does not question
or even address corporate power or faulty scientific
assumptions. Ecologically sound alternatives like
permaculture and agroecology are not even mentioned,
the assumption being that they can be integrated into
the brave new nanobio future.

I normally would not post to this list articles that I
consider shallow and uninsightful, but I feel this one
should be studied carefully for I believe it is a good
sample of the new pro-industry discourse we'll be
encountering. On the surface it seems critical
(especially to an uninformed reader), but upon closer
examination it does not stray from the industry line
in any significant way. Biotech corporations can
embrace it and thus claim to be in a balanced and
reasonable middle ground between the Florence Wambugus
and CS Prakashes of the world and the "anti-tech
extremists" (that would be us, basically).  

Puerto Rico Project on Biosafety


No need to miss a message. Get email on-the-go 
with Yahoo! Mail for Mobile. Get started.