Hacia una nanotecnología verde

El advenimiento de la nanotecnología, la rama de la ingeniería encaminada a crear objetos molécula a molécula –de hecho, átomo a átomo-, ha evocado imágenes futuristas de “nanorobots” autorreproductivos que hacen operaciones quirúrgicas o convierten el planeta en una masa de “pasta gris”, mientras consumen todo lo que tienen a la vista.

Esas dos hipótesis siguen un guión familiar: el progreso tecnológico -como, por ejemplo, el desarrollo de la energía nuclear, los organismos genéticamente modificados, las tecnologías de la información y la química orgánica sintética- primero promete la salvación, pero después amenaza con la perdición, cuando resultan patentes las consecuencias, muchas de ellas medioambientales. Incluso la desinfección del agua –el avance tecnológico más importante jamás logrado para prolongar la vida humana- resulta que produce subproductos carcinogénicos. El ciclo de descubrimiento fundamental, desarrollo tecnológico, revelación de consecuencias indeseables y aversión pública resulta imparable.

¿Será diferente la nanotecnología? Junto con la euforia y el bombo tempranos que suele rodear la aparición de las nuevas tecnologías, la nanotecnología ha sido objeto de proyecciones sobre sus posibles riesgos medioambientales mucho antes de su comercialización en gran escala. Plantear esas cuestiones cuando la nanotecnología está aún en su infancia puede dar como resultado productos mejores y más seguros y menos riesgos a largo plazo para la industria.

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