Nanotechnology -- Small Matter, many unknowns
Report by Swiss Re
Vol. 0, Num. 0
Swiss Re reviews the meaning of nanotechnology, and then covers its presence in several fields, including health, the environment. It surveys possible occupational hazards, and the coming regulatory context. It asks whether or not asbestos is a viable comparison as regards risk, and suggests that if the public comes to fear and distrust nanotechnology, it will be extremely difficult to dislodge such opinions. They advocate the precautionary principle, which proactively imposes protective measures whether or not the risks are fully known. New technologies, by their nature, create unknown problems. "In view of the dangers to society that could arise out of the establishment of nanotechnology, and given the uncertainty currently prevailing in scientific circles, the precautionary principle should be applied, whatever the difficulties." They also recommend limited liability in a series of claims and clearly defined losses in ongoing nanotechnology insurance, to avoid a flood of late ruinous loss claims.