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August 22nd, 2007

More soldiers in nanotechnology labs?

Flawed government thinking is driving a rapid expansion in the military influence over science and technology, says a new briefing from Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR). US government spending on military research and development (R&D) is soaring (up 57% since 2001), while the UK government has rolled out two new military technology strategies in the last two years. Factors such as these are contributing to an expansion of military involvement in US and UK universities. As far as nanotechnology is concerned, and as we have reported here before, the military is the largest investor in the U.S. Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). The Department of Defence (DoD)'s share of the $6.6 billion NNI budget since the program's inception is over 30%, or $2 billion. While a part of this military R&D spend goes to the internal laboratories of the various parts of the armed services (navy, army, air force) and DARPA, another parts goes to universities as research grants or as part of MURI (Multi-University Research Initiative). The SGR, in its new briefing, documents how government funding for military R&D dwarfs that spent on social and environmental programs across the industrialized world. The group highlights how the military involvement in R&D continues to support a narrow weapons-based security agenda. SRG argues that this marginalizes a broader approach to security, which would give much greater priority to supporting conflict prevention by helping to address the roots of conflict. As part of this case, they point out how R&D that aims to help tackle poverty, climate change and ill-health - and thus help to provide basic security for human populations - is under-funded compared with military R&D.


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