Rosalyn Berne of the University of Virginia studies the ethics of nanotechnology, the manipulation of atoms to create new materials. She spoke with EarthSky about nanotechnology as applied to agriculture.
Rosalyn Berne: For example, I learned about a product that could be sprayed onto plants that in effect accelerates the photosynthesis process. Now that sounds like something that we should not hesitate to do, because it means that we’ll get plants growing faster, bigger, more robust.
But Berne said there is more to consider.
Rosalyn Berne: But what we don’t understand is what happens to that product if and when it washes into the soil, goes down stream, is absorbed by other species.
Berne said ecosytems are complex and she urges caution.
Rosalyn Berne: What we do may have effects that we cannot in any way imagine when we’re so busy creating new processes and introducing new kinds of procedures to agriculture. And so it is very important that we take our time.
Our thanks to:
Rosalyn W. Berne
University of Virginia
Jorge Salazar has conducted thousands of in-depth interviews with scientists in the process of creating science content for EarthSky. He also helps host the 90-second EarthSky podcasts. Jorge has a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Texas at Austin. He knows a lot about a lot of different things. For EarthSky, he has explored subjects as diverse as nanotechnology, ecosystem-based management, climate change, global health, international environmental treaties, astrophysics and cosmology, and environmental security. His penetrating research style, poetic writing, and ability to track down and speak with Nobel prize-winning laureates, all make him a huge asset to EarthSky.