Nanotech faces moral opposition in the US
Europe's favourable public opinion on nanotechnology could help the EU to take the lead in this promising research field as recent survey results suggest that a majority of Americans, based on religious beliefs, find it morally unacceptable.
"There seem to be distinct differences between the United States and countries that are key players in nanotech in Europe in terms of attitudes towards nanotechnology," said Professor Dietram A. Scheufele, speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS ) on 15 February 2008.
Scheufele, a professor of life sciences communication at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, believes that the reason behind this difference in attitude is religion. He said that the survey data showed clear parallels between differences in terms of acceptance of nanotechnology and in terms of moral views. Religion plays an important role in peoples' lives in the US, whereas Europeans "have a much more secular perspective", he argued.
According to Scheufele, those with strong religious convictions view researchers as "playing God" when they create new materials or means to "enhance human qualities" through nanotechnology, biotechnology or stem cell research.
However, Professor Scheufele underlined that ignorance has nothing to do with people's moral doubts on nanotechnology as the survey showed that respondents are well-informed about nanotech and its potential benefits. The issue therefore, according to him, is not about informing these people as they are already informed - and "still oppose it" based on religious beliefs.
Scheufele believes that survey's outcome will affect the way experts explain the technology and its applications in the future. It also means that "the scientific community needs to do a far better job of placing the technology in context and in understanding the attitudes of the American public".
The study carried out by the University of Wisconsin, Madison Survey Center revealed that only 29.5% of Americans find nanotech morally acceptable, whereas significantly higher percentages were observed in Europe. Some 54% of respondents in the UK, 63% in Germany and 72% in France had no moral objection to nanotech.
A recent Eurobarometer survey on biotechnology and life sciences also showed striking differences between the American and European public opinion towards genetically modified (GM) food and nanotechnologies. While Europeans fiercely oppose GM food and largely support advances in nanotechnology qualified as "useful to society and morally acceptable",in the US the opposite holds true.
According to the European Commission, public opinion can be a constraint to technological innovation and contribute to specific technological gaps between the United States and Europe.In early February 2008, the Commission adopted a code of conduct for responsible research on nanosciences (see EurActiv 12/02/08). The EU executive hopes that member states will use the document to promote societal dialogue on nanotech in order to increase understanding and involvement by the general public in the development of new technologies, for example. source
My comment: No comment! It's hight time people to stop putting the name of God in anything the don't understand or that they fear.