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Avoiding a nanotech backlash

United Kingdom report warns of GM-style problems unless a wider public debate is started

Stephen Pincock(Stephen@thescientisteurope.com)

If companies developing nanotechnology products want to avoid being hit with the sort of backlash that crop firms have suffered over genetic modification (GM), there needs to be public debate at an earlier stage of research and development, a British think tank said on Wednesday, September 1.

In a new report from Demos, James Wilsdon and Rebecca Willis argue that companies haven't learned the lessons that GM should have taught them.

"Nanoparticles are already used in everyday products like sunscreens. But it's not clear that the lessons of GM have really hit home," they said in a statement. "The public wants to know that nanotechnologies are safe, but we also want to know who owns the technology, who will benefit from it, and how it will change our lives. Unless a meaningful debate starts soon, scientists could be facing another public backlash."

The report, produced in partnership with the...

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