The claims of an anti-technology group that has recently claimed responsibility for parcel bomb attacks on Mexican researchers are "absurd", but the threat they pose must be taken seriously, says physicist Gerardo Herrera Corral, whose brother was targeted in the attacks.
The extremist group has declared that nanotechnology will lead to humanity's downfall, and blamed scientists who work on it for "seeking to advance control over people by 'the system'". It has been linked to other attacks in Chile, France and Spain.
Herrera Corral urges the police to take these incidents seriously, and the scientific community to be alert to terrorist organisations and their capabilities to cause destruction and spread fear. "Nanotechnology-research institutes and departments, companies and professional associations must beef up their security procedures, particularly on how they receive and accept parcels and letters."
He argues that opposing technology and technical development is acceptable, and the value of pursuing further advances should be openly debated. "Yet radical groups ... overlook a crucial detail: it is not technology that is the problem, but how we use it."
Dynamite, for example, has found applications in mining, construction and other industries — but it can also be used to make a parcel bomb, says Herrera Corral.
Nature 476, 373 (2011)