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Activists get in on nano action

Page history last edited by frogheart@... 11 years, 3 months ago

If you want to watch a scientist flinch, just mention 'frankenfoods'. You are guaranteed a response. It was a stunningly successful activist campaign which stalled biotechnology funding and research for years. In reality, the funding freeze for biotechnology is a more complicated story (to be told elsewhere) but the 'frankenfood' myth lives on and continues to haunt scientists particularly those involved in emerging technologies such as nanotechnology.

 

Scientists have often provoked a kind of fury and fear in response to their queries into the nature of matter and their attempts to control the forces around us. This fury and fear has been expressed in many ways.

 

In 1888 the Reverend A. C. Johnson prophesied that the very days of the earth were numbered by man's extravagant production of the lightning [electricity]. 'In just 32 years from now,' reported one account of this prophecy, 'the electricity stored in the earth will come in contact with heated matter inside and blow the whole world up'. (p. 120)[1]

 

It might seem funny now but the Reverend Johnson was expressing a profound distress couched within the language and the context of the day. We still experience profound distress on hearing about some of the latest developments in emerging technologies.

 

The 'frankenfoods' story illustrates the power of a pop culture myth when it fused with longstanding fears and concerns about science.[2]

 

Jump back

Nano goes Pop

 

Jump points

Frankenstein and frankenfoods

 

Jump joints

Risks

 

Footnotes

  1. Marvin, C. (1988) When Old Technologies Were New; Thinking About Electric Communication in the Late Nineteenth Century. New York, New York and Oxford, England, Oxford University Press.
  2. de la Giroday, M. (2008a) Engaging Nanotechnology: (pop culture, media, and public awareness). [unpublished paper presented at Cascadia Nanotechnology Symposium, Vancouver, Canada, March 4-5, 2008]

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