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Resistance to Nanotechnology in France

x | 30.05.2006 12:56 | Bio-technology | Ecology | Technology

Report of the first days of a week of actions against the inauguration of minatec, the world's largest centre for nanotecnology, this week in grenoble.

In Grenoble, France, actions have started to try to stop the inauguration of Minatec, which will be the world's largest centre for nanotechnology (for more information on what this is see below). The resistance is planned to continue through the week - the city is mobilising for a demonstration on Thursday 1st June, the date originally planned for the opening. However, due to the threat of actions, it was decided to put back by one day the opening ceremony, and Jaques Chirac, who was to have come, will now not be present. But we, however, will.

On Monday evening, an action took place at the Grenoble city museum to disrupt a reception which was being given for the scientists invited to the opening of Minatec. Actually the action arrived at the venue before the scientists but after leaving the building the first guests were starting to arrive and were greeted with insults and eggs. Tuesday morning saw an occupation of the Conseil General - the regional government - highlighting their involvement as a key funder of Minatec, together with the commission for atomic energy which is linked to the army.

Grenoble is the city in France where there is the highest concentration of institutions researching the frontiers of technology - nuclear, biotech and now nanotechnology. Roadsigns on the motorways as you approach the city proudly announce "grenoble - bio and nanotechnologies". But these technological advances are resisted, and in fact Grenoble, must be one of the few places in the world where there is ongoing resistance to the development of nanotechnology. There have been, for example, actions against the construction of Minatec, including the occupation of a crane. Public debates organised by the scientific establishment are regularly disrupted, for example a forum called "science and democracy" that was organised by the city council as a response to previous criticism. Events organised by researchers campaigning for better state support for science have also been opposed, in an attempt to destroy the image of scientific researchers as benign investigators simply trying to find out more about how the world works.

To inform the "general public" about these new technologies, three issues of a fake magazine pretending to be official propaganda promoting the new technologies have been posted through the letterboxes of the city's residents. The latest, for example, talks about the supposed plans for a huge dome made of nanotech materials which will enclose the alpine corridor between Grenoble and Geneva for 120km, and where people will need chips embedded in their body to enter. These magazines have caused a huge scandal because so many people believed what they read - and then found out that it wasn't so far from the truth anyway.

The actions will continue this week in Grenoble, but the nanotech industry is growing rapidly all over the world - in a few years time it is predicted to be a multitrillion dollar industry. So more than likely somewhere near you there is some laboratory making ever so little chips, or bugs, or smart materials that will one day control our lives and in fact, all life on the planet.

Why we will protest against the inauguration of Minatec
in Grenoble, on 2006, June 1st
In Grenoble, for several years, the university, the industry and the army have invested in nanotechnology in order to stimulate the economical growth and to revolutionise our lives.. We refuse this new techno-industrial disaster.

Against the invasion of electronic spies
Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID chips) embedded in evrey objet of our daily life and in our
identity papers, under animals. and man.s skins; micro- sensors scattered in the environment and on persons; biometric sensors; .intelligent. videocameras; smart dust: these control tools are designed in the labs of Grenoble. Soon we won.t go anywhere, say any word, and buy anything without it being tracked and recorded; a totalitarian world in which the mere idea of
contestation will be an obsolete one.

We do not want GMOs or AMOs (Atomically Modified Organisms)
After genetic engineering, atomic manipulations: nanotechnologies are attacking food and agriculture.
Some researchers use nanoparticles to smuggle foreign DNA into plants. cells so as to make them produce proteins withe new characteristics. Soon farmers will be forced to use nano-encapsulated pesticides, vet nanoparticles, molecular sensors, and also to put chips under their animals. skins. For milleniums, however, the humans have known simple methods to grow healthy food.Once again, the industry is trying to forbid it to us.

We refuse electronic gadgets:
In addition to nanoparticles and nanomaterials, the industry is trusting the communicating objects to boost sales. Pens, refrigerators, clothes, domestic appliances, telephones: every single object will be connected.This is known as ambient intelligence.. A marketing idea to have us buying always more useless products, polluting both for the manufacture and for the elimination. You don.t need them? Yes, you do, say the sociologists of uses of the IDEAS Lab in Minatec, who are paid to make us accept the nano-fashionable junk.

Against nanoparticles, .abestos bis.:
In a recent study, some rats were made to inhale carbon nanoparticles: their lungs look like those of the victims of abestos. Some large mouth bass were introduced carbon fullerens into the water they lived in: they developped various cellular abnormalities. Nanoparticles can already be found in sunscreens, in self cleaning glass or in some rubber tyres. Toxicologists have shown that their very small size allows them to move everywhere in the body, across the skin, blood cells or the bllod brain barrier. Why do insurance companies refuse to insure the environmental and health risks of the nanotechnologies?

We (also) refuse the weapons of the future:
The nanotechnologies are also used to wage war. The DGA (General Bureau for Armament) signed an agreement with the CEA, which gives it access to the latest scientific breakthroughs of Minatec, allows it to decide about subjets for thesis and to direct the research. Researchers have already designed intelligent. shells micro-drons, communicating and camouflaging fabrics, chemical and biological sensors, micro sources of energy, infrared sighting weapons, microcaosules for toxic products, exo-skeletons and other death tools.

We do not want the machine-man:
We refuse the project of converging technologies, also addressed as NBIC (Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information and Cognitive science), which pretends to create an .improved. human race, thanks to implants and electronic prosthesis, which will certainly lead to the automation of the human race: robots.

We refuse the reign of Minatec over the region of Grenoble:
the city of Grenoble and its inhabitants are asked to adapt themselves so the place remains attractive to researchers, start-ups creators and engineers who are coveted by our elected representatives. Destruction of old urban areas to build luxury housing projects, evicting of the popular classes from the city center, putting up of rents, massive urbanization, prestige politics. Accorder to a delighted elected councillor it is the tyranny of success, the poor hand over to the rich..
The community - which means, we - finance the investment (E 115 millions, out of the E 193 millions that minatec costs, are public funds) for the profit of private companies. they decide for us, we pay for them.

Against the dictatorship of the technocratic system:
The nanotechnologies are going to revolutionise our lives claim researchers and manufacturers, as they
did for GM food and nuclear energy. If there was to be such a revolution, it would happen against our will. See for example: Minatec, initiated by the CEA (the Atomic Energy Commission) in 1998 and approved by the Metro (Grenoble plus its suburbs) in 2000, was decided in the secret of the meetings of the techchnological and political elites, without consulting the inhabitants at any time. It is only in 2005, to answers the citizens. protests, when the Metro organized a talk show, .Science and democracy., aiming at making us accept decisions which had
already been taken.

Close Minatec.
Grenoble Opponents to Necrotechnology.
February 2006

More infomation: actions:
Background on nanotechnology: ETC group: