July 7, 2003 - The NanoBusiness Alliance on Monday announced the creation of a group devoted to dealing with safety concerns related to nanotech development.
The Health and Environmental Issues Task Force, which includes nanotech specialists from business, government and academia, seeks to develop and acquire information for the public and industry leaders. Goals include launching a Web-based library of literature in September, and, later, working with experts to develop studies and industry standards. Mark Modzelewski, the New York-based alliance's executive director, said he hopes the group can dispel some of the fears of the emerging field, popularized by Michael Crichton's book "Prey" and the new movie "The Hulk."
"There's a sexiness of talking about science out of control. That has certainly captured the imagination of people in the media -- especially those who didn't want to figure it out," he said.
He said alliance members spurred the effort, as they talked publicly more about the science fiction than science. "They were willing to talk about … filtration systems, but said, 'Damn if I feel like talking about gray goo,'" Modzelewski said. "They were already people getting angry and fatigued addressing things that just weren't real."
The idea, more than a year in the making, was accelerated by activists like the ETC Group, which has called for a moratorium on nano research until leaders can establish appropriate lab protocols. "I'll agree with ETC on this: Science generally gets imposed on people -- there isn't much discussion on it … until it's already in their lap," he said. "You have a discussion with people, tell them what's happening, why these changes are important and what they mean."