Wednesday, March 7, 2007

How is nanotechnology perceived?

Several articles on how nanotechnology is perceived by the public crossed my desk this morning, so I thought I would pass along a few pertinent excerpts.

"According to a recent Eurobarometer, Europeans do not perceive nanotech as risky; rather, they support its development, perceive it as being useful to society and morally acceptable and have far greater confidence in regulation than for example their transatlantic counterparts in the US or Canada.

Everybody agrees that more research on the health and environmental risks posed by nanoparticles is needed to be sure that asbestos-type disasters will not come back to haunt nanotech companies in the future.

Consumer confidence and public trust in nanotech are also directly linked with access to understandable information on the technology. Such information will allow people to understand what nanotechnology is, how it will be applied and its implications for society. Involving citizens with science policymaking through an open debate and analysis of benefits and risks (both real and perceived) of nanotech have been highlighted as one way forward in regulating nanotech."

(From Nanotechnology and consumer confidence

"The U.S. public's perception of nanotechnology is up for grabs," said Yale University Professor Dan Kahan, one of the online survey's investigators. "It could divide along the lines of nuclear power, global warming and other contentious environmental issues, absent a major public education and engagement effort by industry, government, civic groups and scientists."

(From Survey finds nanotechnology attitudes vary

"As the emerging field of nanotechnology enters the public consciousness, mass media play an important role in shaping public attitudes about the new science. …newspapers and the Internet help people better understand nanotechnology research, but television news accounts have a more emotional effect."

(From Media effects on public attitudes toward nanotechnology

"…when it comes to nanotechnology, Lakhtakia and his colleagues found most people aren't paying much attention. Or, if they are aware of the field, their reactions are too often overly enthusiastic, uninformed or alarmist."

(From Most people nanotechnology ignorant

"Control and tighter regulations are required to make nanotechnology safer, proclaimed the U.N. on 5th February 2007. UNEP (U.N.'s Environment Program) in its yearly report on global environment said, swift action from the policy makers was the need of the hour so as to allow the proper evaluation of new science."

(From Nanotechnology Needs Tighter Control

And listen to the debate points as they are being considered by our cousins down under at:

The Implications for Health, Safety and the Environment of the Nanotech Revolution
Total running time 33 mins, File size: 13.4Mb, File Type: mp3 (

I also recommend the magazine Nanotechnology Perceptions - A Review of Ultraprecision Engineering and Nanotechnology. See for details.

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