Home > Press > Nanotechnology: Consumers Must Be Convinced Benefits Outweigh Risks
Uncertainty will make nanotech a "hard sell"
Nanotechnology: Consumers Must Be Convinced Benefits Outweigh Risks
Washington, DC | Posted on June 25th, 2007
"There is no doubt that nanotechnology has the potential to make the world a better place," said Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies Chief Scientist Andrew Maynard. "But if consumers and other stakeholders are not convinced that the benefits outweigh the risks, many applications will not see the light of day. Likewise, if the benefits are unclear and the risks uncertain, the products of nanotechnology will be a hard sell."
Dr. Maynard's remark is in his presentation today before a public meeting of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). He spoke as part of a panel devoted to addressing and managing the potential health, environmental and safety risks of nanotechnology.
"Nanotechnology is turning our world upside down...It also is shaking up our understanding of what makes something harmful and how we deal with that," according to Maynard. He described the current U.S. policy toward managing the possible health and safety risks of nanotechnologies as "approaching 21st century technologies with a 20th century mindset."
Maynard called on the federal government to develop a goal-driven risk research strategy to provide decision-makers-including regulators, industry and consumers-with the scientific information they need to help develop and use nanotechnologies as safely as possible. He suggested an international approach to this challenge based on a set of strategic research questions developed by thirteen top scientists last year which were published in the journal Nature.
The paper, "Safe handling of nanotechnology" (Maynard et al., Nature, vol. 44, 16 November 2006), was praised as a "landmark in the history of nanotechnology research" by the then chair Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and ranking member Bart Gordon (D-TN) of the U.S. Congress‚s House Science Committee. In a statement about the paper's findings, the Congressmen said they both had made it clear that they felt "the Administration was moving too slowly in preparing and funding a research agenda in this area [of nanotechnology risk research] when a sense of urgency was needed." Two co-authors of the paper, University of Rochester's Gunter Oberdorster, and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences‚ (NIEHS) Sally Tinkle, also made presentations at the PCAST meeting.
In his remarks, Maynard proposed a significant increase in research funding for agencies responsible for oversight and related research-the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food & Drug Administration (FDA), National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH), and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). He called for creation of a better decision-making and coordination mechanism among government agencies to implement a strategic federal risk research plan for nanotechnology and to lead government-industry research partnerships in this area. He noted that government-industry models like the Health Effects Institute, developed to address automobile pollution, could be leveraged for nanotechnology risk research.
Maynard also suggested that America's competitive edge and continued world leadership in nanotechnology require a sound and innovative risk management plan. He gave examples of other countries who are taking an integrated approach to nanotechnology implications and commercial applications research.
Maynard's presentation, along with his 2006 report, Nanotechnology: A Research Strategy for Addressing Risk, are available online at http://www.nanotechproject.org . For a complete agenda of the PCAST meeting, see:
About The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies is an initiative launched by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and The Pew Charitable Trusts in 2005. It is dedicated to helping business, government and the public anticipate and manage possible health and environmental implications of nanotechnology.
Nanotechnology is the ability to measure, see, manipulate and manufacture things usually between 1 and 100 nanometers. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter; a flea is roughly 1 million nanometers wide. More than $30 billion in nanotechnology products were sold world-wide in 2005. By 2014, Lux Research projects that $2.6 trillion in manufactured goods will incorporate nanotechnology-about 15 percent of total global output.
For more information, please click here
Phone: (202) 691-4016
Copyright © Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
If you have a comment, please Contact
Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.
Lawrence Livermore researchers develop efficient method to produce nanoporous metals November 25th, 2014
Renishaw receives Queen's Award for spectroscopy developments November 25th, 2014
Vegetable oil ingredient key to destroying gastric disease bacteria: In mice, therapeutic nanoparticles dampen H. pylori bacteria and inflammation that lead to ulcers and gastric cancer November 25th, 2014
Research yields material made of single-atom layers that snap together like Legos November 25th, 2014
SEMATECH to Showcase Innovation and Advances in Manufacturing at SEMICON Japan 2014: SEMATECH experts will share the latest techniques, emerging trends and best practices in advanced manufacturing strategies and methodologies November 26th, 2014
Australian startup creates world’s first 100% cotton hydrophobic T-Shirts November 26th, 2014
The mysterious 'action at a distance' between liquid containers November 26th, 2014
'Giant' charge density disturbances discovered in nanomaterials: Juelich researchers amplify Friedel oscillations in thin metallic films November 26th, 2014
Sustainable Nanotechnologies Project November 20th, 2014
A gut reaction November 19th, 2014
Nanosafety research – there’s room for improvement October 29th, 2014
Plastic nanoparticles also harm freshwater organisms October 18th, 2014