Nanotechnology: Come the Luddites, v.2

By May 17, 2006General

Maybe you’ll read this from an AP story and shake your head like we did:

[Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace and six other groups have filed a petition with the FDA], asking them to strengthen their regulation of sunscreens that contain nano-sized titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, saying particles of those minute dimensions pose health and environmental risks, including possible inflammatory and immune responses in the human body.

How’s that again?

Yup, apparently this group had a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. They say that the FDA needs new regulations (of course — regulations fix everything), according to the AP, ” that take into account the unique hazards that ‘untested’ and ‘unassessed’ nanomaterials may pose.” Friends of the Earth? Greenpeace? Sunscreens and nanotech? What’s wrong — is the global warming hysteria business drying up?

We wrote on this a while back, on the coming nano-hysteria. We cited blog god Glenn Reynolds and his excellent book “An Army of Davids” back then, cautioning against Luddite-like reaction to nano-technology. In our prior post, folks were ringing the alarm about feared-but-unproven workplace threats.

For their part, the FDA spokesperson says, “We haven’t seen any safety concerns that would cause us to regulate things differently.” The spokesman for the cosmetics industry association is quoted in the AP story as saying, “The amount of knowledge that we have for the safety of these materials is more than adequate to deal with their safety in the marketplace…”

Once again industry is forced to respond to unfounded allegations by a group with a very definite — and anti-progress — agenda. We should let nanotechnology flourish, and tell the Luddites to get out of the way.

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • markus says:

    You say that you are tired of name calling but the fact is that you don’t seem to mind making insinuations that amount to the same thing.

    You say that you are tired of conspiracy theories without substance yet the fact is that the luddite group offers nothing of substance concerning any harmful effects of the materials they object to. Only conspiracy theories of corporations who are unconcerned with public health.

    Perhaps when you or the luddite group can cite some facts relating to any harmful effects of the materials being objected to I will be able to offer some more facts in return.

  • Antony Jagger says:

    Wow, sounds intriguing..I would genuinely be interested to hear what your own observations are about this group.
    You’ve clearly repeated the authors assertion of anti-technology and anti-science scare-mongering on their part but not added anything in the way of explanation.
    Eight groups submit a request to increase regulation on something that they consider to be potentially harmful. How and Which “ends” are they futhering?
    I’m not for or against here, but I’m tired of name-calling and conspiracy theories without substance.
    Why are they luddites? Call me pedantic, but I need something vaguely resembling a fact to see your point.

  • markus says:

    I’ll have to agree with the luddite description because I don’t believe that this group’s motivation is “public health”. Their motivation, from my observations, is anti-technology and anti-science. I wish they would be more “out in the open” about their true aims rather than furthering their ends through scare mongering.

    Democracy affords us one vote to one person not endless hand wringing and money wasting because something might, maybe, possibly cause some potential harm at sometime in the future.

  • Antony Jagger says:

    Why would someone that had a concern for public health be a “luddite”? I don’t see anything against technology or progress here. Just a call for testing and clarification that the technology is safe.
    Why can’t they ask the question, get the answers and have everything out in the open? Is that not what democracy affords us? Isn’t it important to do that with a cool head and not name call.
    Are either of us experts in this? Do you know all the facts?