The country cannot afford a repeat of this farce—and not just because of the public health concerns. With so many nanomaterials already on the market and such little public awareness of nanotechnology, one safety scare might convince consumers that all nanotechnology is dangerous. (Witness Europe’s attitude toward genetic modification for an example of how a culture can turn against an entire class of innovation.) In addition, without clear scientific and regulatory guidance, many companies are hesitant to invest in nanotechnology R&D, fearing the exposure to legal action that could result if one day a technology is deemed dangerous. Procter & Gamble, for example, is not pursuing nanotechnology because of the long-term risk of litigation.
This uncertainty is putting people’s health at risk and choking innovation. And with all the threats the planet faces, we need all the little bits of innovation we can get.
This article was originally published with the title Big Need for a Little Testing.