NEW YORK—Superconductive power lines, high-strength composite cements and genetically engineered artificial sweeteners produced in the United States, Western Europe and Japan might seem of little concern to the people of Brazil, Zaire or other Third World nations.

But an upcoming report from the U.N. Center for Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD) says such a belief is not only mistaken but also damaging to the economies of those developing countries. It hopes to illustrate that point this fall with the publication of a bulletin, "Materials Technology and Development," that will discuss the implications of these new technologies on the world economy.

Recently discovered rare-earth ceramic compounds, for example, may result in superconductive power cables that can produce greater efficiency in transmission. That improvement, in turn, would reduce the need for new power stations around the world.

But the new materials could also lead to a precipitous drop in the demand...

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