Nanotechnology: Backlash against the Word

Last year, I suggested on this blog that maybe manufacturers employing nanomaterials would prefer not to mention the word â''nanotechnologyâ'' in their marketing rather than promote it.

Even earlier this year, I offered the opinion that perhaps companies trying to engage in reasonable debate on the safety of nanotechnology might be taking a big risk since there are so few â''reasonableâ'' people with whom to carry on the debate. Better just to keep your mouth shut.

This all seems to have been confirmed in a recent article entitled â''The New Plasticâ'' authored by Alex Schmidt that shows that in fact a PR firm specializing in nanotech advises companies to cut â''nanotechnologyâ'' out of their marketing lexicon.

The article is peppered with phrases like â''This dearth of information prevents consumers from making informed decisions.â'' One feels compelled to take the author aside and point that itâ''s sort of like the dearth of information we have on the hazardous materials used in making our mobile phones, no?

The article concludes with the ominous prediction of a future world where PR flaks are the ones determining what the consumer knows about nanotechnology-enabled products not government bureaucrats. Question is when has this ever not been the case for just about every consumer product?

Advertisement

Tech Talk

IEEE Spectrum’s general technology blog, featuring news, analysis, and opinions about engineering, consumer electronics, and technology and society, from the editorial staff and freelance contributors.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up for the Tech Alert newsletter and receive ground-breaking technology and science news from IEEE Spectrum every Thursday.

Advertisement