Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Rallying against the unknown?

Patti Glaza of SmallTimes has a very good column in the May/June issue of her magazine, calling on industry to take a more pro-active role in communicating with journalists and the public during crises, such as the recent Magic Nano recall in Germany. And many of here recommendations are well taken. Toward the end she asks:
"Could there be a public backlash against nano? Sure. But it is hard to rally against something that is so difficult to define.”

This is an interesting conclusion, and I am not sure I agree. In fact, I am convinced that the “Frankenfood” label in the GMO debate worked very well precisely because it was vague and played to fears of the unknown.

Similarly, comparisons between nano and asbestos evoke fears about what we don’t know, and the idea that nano is everywhere without much regulation or oversight, may be the perfect frame to use for opponents of this new technology.