The introduction of most new technologies goes something like this. First the technology is developed behind closed doors. Then the public is excited and won over with breathless pronouncements of wondrous advances and life-improving panaceas. After this, and only afterwards, regulatory regimes are set up and adapted to fit an already packaged product. Given the investments made in developing the technology, it is impossible to re-design it...even when potentially deleterious social or ecological effects have been identified. Already, nanotechnology has reached stage two: L’oréal adverts promise consumers more youthful skin thanks to new ‘nanosomes’; they neglect to mention the possibility that nanoparticles could enter our bloodstream or vital organs.
Also visit the Center For Genetics and Society for more on human genetics in the public interest, and The WorldWatch Institute on our Toxic Legacy and efforts to stop the reckless and largely unregulated introduction of new industrial chemicals into the environment.