June, 2008

Lessons for New Technologies

  • Gary E. Merchant

Key materials
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Gary E. Marchant, Ph.D., J.D. is Lincoln Professor of Emerging Technologies, Law & Ethics, College of Law, Executive Director of Center for Law, Science & Technology, and Professor of School of Life Sciences at the Arizona State University.

Highlights

Summary

Emerging technologies such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, and several others have the potential to provide enormous economic, environmental, and health benefits. Yet, these benefits are being blocked or restricted by the discriminatory treatment and stigmatization of these technologies by regulators, sensationalized media coverage, and activist campaigns, even though these technologies are as safe, if not safer, than existing technologies. Three policy proposals are suggested to address this problem: (i) rejection of the precautionary principle; (ii) legal adoption of the principle of non-discrimination against products based on their method of production; and (iii) a voluntary government-certification program for safety testing.