Tuesday, 30 Sep, 2008 Science
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Half of American Adults Haven't Heard Anything of Nanotechnology

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According to a new poll conducted by Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) and Peter D. Hart Research, about 50 percent of American adults have heard nothing about nanotechnology. Two thirds of correspondents said that they have heard just a little or nothing on the continuously developing field of synthetic biology. Only 2 percent said that they have heard a lot about the emerging technology.

Experts in public policy raise concerns about the federal government not being able to inform people about the possible advantages and risks behind the technologies that could influence the society.

"Early in the administration of the next president, scientists are expected to take the next major step toward the creation of synthetic forms of life. Yet the results from the first U.S. telephone poll about synthetic biology show that most adults have heard just a little or nothing at all about it," mentioned PEN Director David Rejeski.

It is worth mentioning that this is the first time that people underwent a national telephone survey on synthetic biology. Those people, who were willing to make the first judgment, consider that synthetic biology has more benefits than risks. The majority, however, believes that the advantages and risks of the new technology are almost equal.

According to the analysis of an industry forecasting company, in 2007 nanotech products accounted about $147 billion worldwide. The poll showed that Americans did not gather any new information on nanotechnology since 2004, when the research company conducted its first survey on this specific topic.

The essence of synthetic biology lies in advanced science and engineering that are used to create or re-design different life forms, such as bacteria, so they could perform certain functions. Scientists expect in the near future to launch a revolutionary synthetic drug, which would be able to cure 500 million people suffering from malaria worldwide.

Source: NanoTechProject.org

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