Economic Impact of Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is a relatively recent method to industrial production that is based on manipulating entities that are so small that they cannot be seen with the naked eye or conventional microscopes. The term "nontechnology" was derived from the nanoscale unit of measurement (Peter, 2005). Some nanotechnologists believe that this field will play a significant role in the second industrial revolution, which will entail the assembly of individual atoms to produce thousands of economically valuable goods (Peter, 2005). These scientists, however, are mindful of the dangers posed by such items, but believe that the existing standards are sufficient to overcome any hazards that may occur. Due to the dangers related to various forms of technologies the Precautionary Principle was established to deal with situations that might be hazardous.

Nonetheless, in the United States, the nanotechnology is not currently subject to any of special rules and products made from this technology do not need to be labeled. In addition, nobody has ever formulated a consistent nomenclature for nano-products and as a result a comprehensive discussion on nanotechnology among policy makers and regulators is still not possible.

The Precautionary Principle

For more than 20 years, due to rapid technological innovation introduction of Precautionary Principle has been difficult. Nevertheless, as a result of dangers posed by the establishment of the field of nanotech and due to uncertainty currently existing in scientific circles, there is a need to apply the Precautionary Principle at all costs (Peter, 2005). The principle states that there should be proactive introduction of protective measures to counter the potential risks that may be confirmed or rejected by the present science in the absence of the knowledge.

Strict Application of Precautionary Principle

In the United State, rapid developing fields such as nanotechnology the principle states that some of the manufactured nano-materials have increased possibility to be more toxic per unit mass than particles of same element with the large size and hence they will pose a greater danger. Further, practically no existing evidence to allow possible environmental effects of nanotubes and nanoparticles to be examined and thus their release to the environment should be minimized as much as possible until such uncertainties are mitigated (Peter, 2005). So until any evidence is established regarding the safety of nano-materials research laboratories and factories must treat these products as hazardous and ensure their quantities in the waste streams are as minimal as possible.

These recommendations contrast the past approach where the industrial products were regarded harmless until proven otherwise. The factories have duty to come up with safety information about the nanoproducts and they should avail it to the regulators and the public (Peter, 2005). Some of the products such as iron oxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles used in cosmetics must be assessed before being released into the market. In other words moratorium of these goods is highly recommended. Similarly, release nanoproducts into the environment for pollution remediation, an approach that has kicked off in the United States should be banned until adequate information about the probable dangers and benefits of such strategy is availed.

The nanotechnology is igniting a second industrial revolution but at the same time demanding the reversal of traditional strategies used in management of the innovation to use the Precautionary Principle. Despite the increased effort to apply the precautionary approach in the sector of nanotechnology, a confluence of technophiles advocates and government in collaboration with upcoming industrial lobby remains uncertain (Peter, 2005).

Economic and Scientific Competitiveness Impact of Precautionary Principle

Strict application of Precautionary Principle will have drastic impact on the United States economy because it will halt the production of nanoproducts that contributes positively towards economic growth of this country. For instance, the market of medical instruments is anticipated to grow by approximately 9% and the introduction of nanomedicine will further boost this increase because it will provide innovative solutions as well as more precise care and new information on the preventive medicine (, 2006). Also this market can be further divided into categories where Nanomedicine may have greatest possibility of penetration including in-vitro diagnostic products imaging systems and patient monitoring systems. In 2003 alone, out of £145 billion, in-vitro devices represented about £ 18 billion which is the 12% of the total amount. It is anticipated that nanotechnology will have a positive effect on the ever-growing market in the near future, because it offers a possibility of more precise and faster evaluations of smaller samples (, 2006). So, it is evident that application of Precautionary Principle will hinder production of nanomedicine products which in turn will halt medical devices market and economy in general.

Another economic sector that is likely to be impacted negatively by strict application of Precautionary Principle green economy. The global demand for energy is expected to increase by more than 30% between now and 2035 and this will lead to high prices of commodities and an urgent need to solve the worldwide challenges as far as sectors of health, energy and environment are concerned (Iavicoli et al., 2014). The concept of green economy can play a vital role in changing the manner in which society manages the interaction between the economic and environmental domains. Nanotechnology has potential to produce enormous amount of energy by directly converting sunlight to the electric power, process referred to as photovoltaic effect (Iavicoli et al., 2014). In addition of using photocells in the production of electric energy, nanotech also has made a on fuel cells, devices with the capacity to convert chemical energy directly to electricity. Using these alternative sources of energy the imminent global energy crisis could be solved and this will impact US economy positively (Shapira & Youtie, 2015). However, if the federal government applies the strict form of Precautionary Principle on nanotechnology there will be energy crisis which will have a negative effect on the growth of economy in the United States.

The global scientific competitiveness will also be affected negatively by strict application of Precautionary Principle on nanotechnology because most of the countries are now recognizing the benefits of nanotechnology and the numbers of patents on this field are increasing daily. For instance, for the past ten years the number of patents in Japan has increased and it currently stands at 3182, which is 14.88% of the total registered patents. On the hand, South Korea has total of 943 registered patents and the numbers in the developed countries are increasing on daily basis. With such increasing innovativeness in these countries, the United States global scientific competitiveness will increase if they apply strict Precautionary Principle.

Although, nanotechnology presents a number of benefits, based on the history of biotechnology, chemical industry and nuclear power a precautionary approach must be put in place. A principle by some philosophers that states that better safe than sorry should be applied. Precautionary Principle should be used as new a approach to manage the innovation as a way of reducing risks against human lives.

References, (2006). Economic Impact of Nanotechnology Based Healthcare Including Medical Devices, Medical Imaging and Pharmaceuticals. Retrieved 13 November 2017, from

Iavicoli, I., Leso, V., Ricciardi, W., Hodson, L. L., & Hoover, M. D. (2014). Opportunities and challenges of nanotechnology in the green economy. Environmental Health, 13(1), 78.

Peter, M. (2005).Nanotechnology and the Precautionary Principle. Retrieved 13 November 2017, from

Shapira, P., & Youtie, J. (2015). The economic contributions of nanotechnology to green and sustainable growth. In Green processes for nanotechnology (pp. 409-434). Springer International Publishing.

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