International Center for Technology Assessment

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The International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA) is a U.S. non-profit bi-partisan organization, based in Washington, D.C.. ICTA aims to provide the public with full assessments and analyses of technological impacts on society. ICTA explores the economic, ethical, social, environmental and political impacts that can result from the applications of technology or technological systems.

Objectives of the Center[edit]

ICTA seeks to assist the public and policy makers in better understanding how technology affects society.


ICTA lobbies for stronger regulation of nanotechnology through its Nanotechnology Project NanoAction.[1] The implications of nanotechnology run the gamut from the medical, ethical, mental, legal and environmental applications, to fields such as engineering, biology, chemistry, computing, materials science, military applications, and communications. Nanotechnology is improving current techniques along with creating new tools and capabilities.[2]

The Bush administration in 2007 decided that no special regulations or labeling of nanoparticles were required. "The consumer is being made the guinea pig", said George Kimbrell of the International Center for Technology Assessment.[3]

In January 2008, a coalition of over 40 civil society groups endorsed a statement of principles[4] calling for precautionary action related to nanotechnology. The coalition called for strong, comprehensive oversight of the new technology and its products in the International Center for Technology Assessment's report Principles for the Oversight of Nanotechnologies and Nanomaterials.[5]

Other projects[edit]

Among the projects that ICTA is working upon are Patent Watch, an effort to put stricter ethical and public interest restrictions on patents.

ICTA is also concerned about some of the developments that are taking place in the area of human biotechnology. ICTA warns that "a new eugenics age has begun".[6] In particular, this refers to highly profit-driven areas of biotechnology such as genetic engineering, genetic screening, and cloning.

ICTA, in collaboration with approximately 100 other organizations, including Friends of the Earth and the ETC Group, have put forth a moratorium against synthetic biology. These organizations claim that “the technology could lead to environmental hazards of Frankensteinian proportions, including new strains of unstoppable invasive species and unpredictable hazards to human health.” They seek global regulation and biosafety measures on synthetic biology research and technologies.[7]

ICTA also does a lot of work in the areas of corporate accountability and economics, trying to ensure the observance of ethical principles as part of business practices. Thus, ICTA is a founding member of the Center for Corporate Policy that works actively in these areas.[8]

ICTA contributes strongly to the areas of global warming and the environment. In particular, they are concerned about the modern threat to the environment of "biological pollution", such as the invasive species. Also, the introduction of genetically modified plants and animals is of concern. Crops engineered to produce pharmaceuticals (Pharming), or resist herbicides may well spread genetic pollution by cross-pollinating with weeds or other crops, and ICTA is actively addressing these issues.


ICTA was formed in 1994. Its executive director is consumer advocate Andrew Kimbrell. Its sister organization is the Center for Food Safety.

In 2004, ICTA took an active part in Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser, a leading Supreme Court of Canada case on patent rights for biotechnology. The case involved Percy Schmeiser, a Saskatchewan canola farmer. Intervening on Schmeiser’s behalf were a consortium of six non-government organizations, among which was the International Center for Technology Assessment. Schmeiser lost the case.[9][10]

In 2006, Friends of the Earth and ICTA filed a formal petition with the Food and Drug Administration for better monitoring and regulating of cosmetic and toiletry products containing nanoparticles and stated they would sue if the FDA does not take adequate action in 180 days.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Introduction to NanoAction NanoAction website
  2. ^ Saini, Rajiv; Saini, Santosh; Sharma, Sugandha (2010). "Nanotechnology: The Future Medicine". Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery. 3 (1): 32–33. PMC 2890134Freely accessible. PMID 20606992. doi:10.4103/0974-2077.63301. 
  3. ^ FDA Says No New Labeling For Nanotech Products 27-Jul-07, Reuters
  4. ^ "Principles for the Oversight of Nanotechnologies and Nanomaterials". International Center for Technology Assessment. 2008. 
  5. ^ "Broad international coalition issues urgent call for strong oversight of nanotechnology" (Press release). International Center for Technology Assessment. 2007-07-31. Retrieved 2007-10-19. 
  6. ^ Human Biotechnology: The Age of the "New Eugenics" ICTA website
  7. ^ What to do about synthetic life? By Alan Boyle, Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  8. ^ Center for Corporate Policy website
  9. ^ Canada’s Supreme Court Hears Percy Schmeiser’s Appeal, History Commons, January 20, 2004
  10. ^ Small farmer's fight becomes anti-biotech crusade By Paul Elias, USA TODAY, 1/19/2004
  11. ^ Keay Davidson (2006-05-17). "FDA urged to limit nanoparticle use in cosmetics and sunscreens". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-04-20. 


External links[edit]