Title: Nanotechnology innovation as a deus ex machine and potential effects on sustainability in a global context

Authors: Michael G. Tyshenko

Addresses: McLaughlin Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 6N5, Canada

Abstract: Researchers, governments and industries developing products present the miraculous benefits associated with nanotechnology stating that it will be transformative capable of alleviating water, energy and material shortages globally. Nanotechnology development is framed in this way to discourage early opposition, as those against it would also appear to be against future global social equity. There is little discussion of any potential risks or unequal sharing of benefits resulting from nanotechnology or consideration of secondary impacts that would occur after its introduction as these would tend to stifle innovation. Analysis of the research being undertaken and developed by different countries reveals very different motives for nanotechnology investments. Scrutiny of nanotechnology research funding reveals a disjunction between the main stakeholder|s desired benefits compared to its early framing as a modern day saviour or deus ex machina. The major risks from nanotechnology derived pollution, water and energy production to sustainability are discussed within a global context.

Keywords: nanotechnology innovation; risk management; social cohesion; social equity; sustainable development; sustainability; nanotechnology investment; risk assessment.

DOI: 10.1504/IJNT.2010.031311

International Journal of Nanotechnology, 2010 Vol.7 No.2/3, pp.209 - 223

Published online: 29 Jan 2010 *

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