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August 26th, 2005
Helping the poor: Nanotech’s real challenge
Catherine Brahic: Those concerned about the potential side effects of nanotechnology should spend more time worrying about ways of ensuring that it meets the needs of the poor.
One legitimate concern about the role of science and technology in promoting development is that too often in the past, new technologies have been introduced with inadequate attention to their potential damaging consequences. Think, for example, of the way that rivers across the developing world have become irreversibly polluted by industrial effluent, or the widespread health and environmental damage caused by the indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides.
But there is also the danger that, if such concerns are taken too far, they could block the development of technological innovations that offer a genuine opportunity — even taking their potential threats and limitations into account — to substantially increase the health and well-being of those across the developing world.
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