Gaining Perspective on Environmental and Health Concerns about Nanotechnology

I was reading with bemusement the latest expression of self-righteous indignation from an organic food organization banning “nanotechnology” from organic food and I was considering blogging on the absurdity of it all when I realized TNTLog had already reduced it to its silly posturing last month.

I thought I would also take a look over at 20/20 Science to see if this latest insult to our collective intelligence had been discussed and instead came across Dr. Andrew Maynard’s measured but ultimately devastating analysis of the Friends of Earth (FoE) latest screed on nanoparticles in sunscreens.

I would like for a moment to relate how I first came to know Dr. Maynard in the hope of illustrating just how open he is to the questioning and the estimating of nanotechnology’s risk. I was organizing a conference to be held at the Georgia Tech Research Institute back in 2006 on the topic of nanotechnologies’ applications in the food industry, and one of the speakers I invited was Dr. Maynard.

After all the conferences he has participated in I am fairly certain he has little to no recollection of this event, but I remember he spent a good portion of the two-day conference challenging his colleagues on really how sure they were that they had adequately addressed nanotechnology’s risks.

So, from first-hand and in-person experience I can testify that Dr. Maynard will challenge anyone on this issue. This to me makes his careful analysis, which manages to take apart card-by-card the house-of-cards argument of the FoE, all the more devastating.

Just when I begin to despair that hyperbole, misdirection, or manipulation of data around nanotechnology’s risk  will win out over careful analysis, I am comforted by a piece that sets out to carefully measure each charge and see where the truth or the fiction lies.

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Nanoclast

IEEE Spectrum’s nanotechnology blog, featuring news and analysis about the development, applications, and future of science and technology at the nanoscale.

 
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Dexter Johnson
Madrid, Spain
 
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Associate Editor, IEEE Spectrum
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