Ban what we don't yet understand? It's not the greatest way to be green


Douglas Mulhall, Our Molecular Future, 2022 Cliff Drive Unit 93109, Santa Barbara, CA 93109
Scientists must work with environmentalists on developing nanomaterials, otherwise face trouble. I began sending that message to nanotechnologists some years ago. Trouble has since arrived in the form of a moratorium on nanomaterials manufacturing proposed by the Canadian-based ETC Group. Is this proposal credible? Yes. Its legal foundation -- the Precautionary Principle -- calls for risky science to be suspended until it's proven not to be harmful. This is entrenched in European legislation, and the European Parliament is investigating. Activists want to temporarily stop nanomaterials from being released into the environment due to new evidence that such materials interact with living organisms. Many scientists claim such a ban is silly because it risks stopping medical and other advances. They are both partially right. If environmentalists and nanotechnologists collaborate there may be a way to minimize risks and maximize benefits of nanomaterials.