There Is No Such Thing As A Nanotechnology Industry, Even If Youâ¿¿re An Environmentalist

The Mercury News recently ran an editorial authored by Sheila Davis, executive director of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC), which had all sorts of interesting little ideas.

For one, it proposes that if todayâ''s environmental policies are not updated, nanotechnology will cause big problems for our health and the environment.

So, by that logic if the EPA figures out a way to determine the toxicity of a substance based on its size rather than its chemistry, then nanotechnology wonâ''t hurt us. But until that time, it will.

Why do these screeds always end up chasing their tails? Why isnâ''t it just sufficient to say, â''We donâ''t know as much as we should about the toxicity of nanoparticles, and we should be endeavoring to know more.â''? Why must legitimate concern be ratcheted up to â''11â'' on the volume and come out as an ideological rant?

Well, I decided I would visit the SVTCâ''s website to learn more, and I was immediately faced with this: â''On April 2nd, the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) released a report exposing the potentially catastrophic impact on your health and environment of a nanotechnology industry that runs unchecked.â''

Where I work, the term â''nanotechnology industryâ'' always puts a smirk on our face, and a familiar refrain: â''There is not and never will be a â''nanotechnology industryâ''.â''

I know this will disappoint the activists out there who find it far more satisfying to rail against big, bad industry rather than an enabling technology. But maybe it will allay their fears somewhat. Probably not.

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