Nanotechnology and the Developing World: Lab-On-Chip Technology for Health and Environmental Applications
Mehta, Michael D
Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society
Vol. 28, Num. 5
Mehta looks at the nano-haves of the world and analyzes whether their history and intentions with new technologies spell relief or doom for the developing world. His focus on lab-on-chip technology brings him to medicinal and environmental improvement, and his focus on developing nations puts the onus on developed nations to eschew profits in the name of humanitarianism. The ease of use and portability of lab-on-chip diagnosis devices promises not just streamlined healthcare but a much-improved ability to work in poorer nations; this technology would enhance dramatically the quality of life of millions of Africans in danger of HIV infection, though the emphasis on diagnosis without a cure raises questions about the practical and ethical nature of such a study. Nanotechnology could also be used to curtail the risk society phenomenon associated with developed, industrialized countries, though societies of the developing world pose their own threats to global and environmental health that this field could address. If this lab-on-chip technology is to be successful, however, Mehta requires that it be applied to disease and other social problems, rather than consumables; that it be something the developing world can produce, rather than another mode of dependency; and that ethical considerations are kept in mind, lest the developing world end up with technologies but no cure or infrastructure by which to profit from them.