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Extramural Research

Lessons Learned from the Frankenfood Debate

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The US government spent an estimated $2 billion on nanotech research over the last two years. Nanoscience is the study of fundamental principles of molecules and structures with at least one dimension roughly between 1 and 100 nanometers. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter, and a human hair measures 50,000 nanometers across.

BusinessWeek hypes nanotechnology as "Investing's 'Next Big Thing." NSF predicts that the market for nanotech products and services will reach $1 trillion by 2015. And scientists and engineers are working to harness the technology to help provide the world with sustainable energy, quantum computing, and drugs to treat cancerous tumors before they metastasize.

At the same time, The New York Times is warning that opposition to nanotechnology is forming from nongovernmental organizations like Greenpeace. And Great Britain's Science Minister is vowing to make certain that nanotechnology won't suffer from the same level of public controversy and fear that surrounded the introduction of genetically modified (GM) food to Europe in the 1990s.

This presentation will look at the Frankenfood debate--how and why it developed, what are European public attitudes toward risk, and whether Europe's so-called "biophobia" could become "nanophobia."

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