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Nanotechnology Project now Emerging Tech Project

Friends of the Earth Australia’s nanotechnology project is now the emerging tech project. In addition to nanotechnology, we will now be working on synthetic biology and geoengineering as well. This will allow us to begin to critique some of the issues of corporate control of technology and science – and what that means for the public good. Check out our new website at www.emergingtech.foe.org.au

Another broken promise: FSANZ fails to ensure the safety of foods containing nanomaterials

Our new report, Way too little, looks at the now widespread presence of nanomaterials in our food chain and how little Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is doing to ensure our safety.

Synthetic biology: Genetic Engineering Goes Extreme

Jim Thomas, ETC Group

Exactly twenty years ago the first genetically modified (GM) food entered commercial use, sparking massive controversy, trade fights and resistance from farmers, consumers and workers worldwide. Now the biotech industry is poised for a second assault on the food system with a technology platform they are calling 'Synthetic Biology', dubbed 'extreme genetic engineering' or 'GMO 2.0', a new hi-tech means of producing artificial organisms. The first targets of this new approach are the tropical farmers who grow vanilla, saffron, stevia, cocoa, rubber, coconut and natural food flavorings. 

Brewing bad: engineering new forms of life

The recent announcement of the creation of the first synthetic yeast chromosome has sent shockwaves through the scientific community. While many external commentators saw the computer design and synthesis of an artificial chromosome as one small step on a long journey of genetic modification – we should not underestimate this building and seemingly successful transplantation of an entire chromosome into a complex life form such as this yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). Building on previous achievements creating synthetic bacteria and viruses, the manipulation of this higher (Eukaryotic) life form clears the path to wholesale modification of larger plants and animals.

Report shows nanomedicine regulation is inadequate

A recent report by Health Care Without Harm Europe suggests that existing regulatory frameworks are insufficient to protect human health and the environment from the use of nanotechnology in healthcare.

Don't leave technology policy to the 'experts'

It is precisely Henry Miller’s attitude of leaving policy and technology development to the ‘experts’ that has left us in the position we find ourselves today. The development of nuclear technology has resulted in the Fukishima disaster and the proliferation of nuclear weapons to countries such as North Korea; the green revolution has poisoned soil and water and destroyed agrarian cultures; and the development and widespread use of fossil fuel technologies is fuelling catastrophic climate change.

Conclusions that nano-ingredients in sunscreen are safe are premature

Recent media reports that “nanoparticles in sunscreen are harmless” on the basis of a recently published study don’t reflect the paper’s own conclusions nor the current state of the science.

Report shows basic research on nanomaterials is lagging behind commercial developments

A recent US National Research Council (NRC) report on research into environmental, health and safety (EHS) matters relating to nanomaterials provides a disturbing picture of nanomaterials flooding markets all over the world, but EHS work languishing years behind with insufficient funding and priority. 

Independent review finds inaccuracy and bias in Government materials on nanotechnology

The Federal Government’s National Enabling Technology Strategy– Public Awareness and Engagement Program (NETS-PACE) ran from February 2010 to June 2013. It was intended to provide ‘balanced’ and ‘factual’ information to “allow the public to make more informed choices about emerging technologies” and “to capture public perspectives, concerns and visions, and inform and influence decision making relevant to science and technology”

An independent review of the program, which was recently made public, shows they did neither. Instead many of the materials reviewed shamelessly promoted the nanotechnology industry; made only brief reference to potential health and environmental risks; and inaccurately reflected the current lack of regulation. The review also observed a disconnect between key policy decisions and public engagement processes.

ACCC refuses to tackle widespread misleading conduct in the sunscreen industry

The ACCC has refused to take action against two sunscreen ingredient manufacturers, Antaria and Ross Cosmetics, for misleading conduct, despite clear evidence that the two companies sold nanomaterials as ‘non nano’ and ‘nanoparticle free’. Some of Australia’s biggest sunscreen brands were misled by Antaria and Ross and repeated their non-nano claims - including products such as Cancer Council Classic, Invisible Zinc Junior and Body sunscreens, Coles Sports and Woolworths Clear Zinc.