Nanotechnology, Commodities, and Development

International Workshop on Nanotechnology, Commodities, and Development

29-31 May 2007, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Meridian Institute convened the International Workshop on Nanotechnology, Commodities, and Development 29 – 31 May 2007 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to:

  • Examine nanotechnology applications that are effecting or may effect demand for agricultural and mineral commodities;

  • Identify mechanisms to anticipate, measure, analyze, and address the impact of nanotechnology applications on commodity-dependent developing countries; and

  • Catalyze actions that could proactively address potential opportunities and risks associated with shifting demand for commodities resulting from nanotechnology research and development.

The term “commodities” usually refers to undifferentiated, widely traded raw materials and agricultural products that are traded principally on the basis of price.  Ninety-five of the 141 developing countries derive at least 50 per cent of their export earnings from commodities. Nanotechnology applications are being developed that could impact global demand for agricultural, mineral, and other non-fuel commodities.  Some applications of nanotechnology could increase global demand, while others could lead to a decrease in demand for specific commodities.

Applications that result in reductions or increases in the demand for commodities could have potentially far reaching socio-economic and other effects in developed and developing countries. The dependence of many developing countries on a few commodities is likely to accentuate the socio-economic effects resulting from changes in commodity markets in comparison to countries with more diversified economic bases. 

The Commodities Workshop explored the linkages between the development of nanotechnology applications, commodities, and international development.

The Commodities Workshop is one of several activities in Meridian Institute’s ongoing Global Dialogue on Nanotechnology and the Poor: Opportunities and Risks (GDNP), designed to close the gaps between people working on nanotechnology and those working on international development through the following goals.

  • Raising awareness about the implications of nanotechnology for the poor;
  • Closing the gaps within and between sectors of society to catalyze actions that address specific opportunities and risks, especially those of significance to developing countries; and
  • Identifying ways that science and technology can play an appropriate role in the development process.

Support for the GDNP is provided The Rockefeller Foundation (United States), International Development Research Centre (Canada), and Department for International Development (United Kingdom).

For more information on Meridian Institute or the GDNP, please visit


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