Technology Assessment

International efforts to address the food, energy and climate crises tend to regard technology as an important part of the solution. This optimism about technology also prevails in debates around the Green Economy and international environmental governance. And of course technology does hold some potential solutions to some important problems. However, two decades of accelerating technological development and deployment, in the context of massive trade and investment liberalization, has left the globe in far worse straits than it was when the very concept of sustainable development was in its infancy.  And now, it is time for a technological re-think. New high-risk technologies, ranging from the very small (synthetic biology, nanotechnology) to the very large (geoengineering), are rapidly developing.  Their promoters promise that they hold the keys to solving climate change, world hunger, energy shortages and biodiversity loss and the precautionary principle and social and economic impacts are often ignored in the rush to deploy the latest technofix. 

Without the strict application of the precautionary principle, and a transparent and participatory form of technology assessment,
some of these new technologies could wreak even more havoc on this fragile planet, already bruised and battered by reckless and
unsustainable forms of production that serve the few at the expense of the many. Take the examples of nanotechnology, synthetic
biology and geoengineering – three fields under rapid development where precaution MUST prevail. Agenda 21 included some modest language on technology assessment – it needs to be reviewed, revived, and put into practice.

Featured Content

Movimentos de Agricultores, de Povos Indígenas e de Organizações da Sociedade Civil ao Redor do Mundo Exigem Banimento

É oficial. Os governos na Convenção de Diversidade Biológica das Nações Unidas (CDB), de forma unânime, mantiveram a moratória internacional de facto sobre a tecnologia Terminator - plantas que são geneticamente engenheiradas para produzirem sementes estéreis na colheita. A 8ª reunião da CDB foi encerrada hoje, em Curitiba, Brasil.

The Terminator - and related genetic seed sterilization technology - has been banned from the crop breeding programs of the world's largest international agricultural research network. The strong and unambiguous policy was adopted by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) at a meeting at the World Bank in Washington on Friday, October 30th 1998.