The Wilson Center’s Project on Emerging
Nanotechnologies, in collaboration with Consumers Union - publishers of
Consumer Reports magazine and Consumer Reports Online - announces a
major effort to reach out to the American public and engage them in an
important online conversation about the possible risks and benefits of
nanotechnology and consumer products.
This exciting online event, ConsumersTalkNano, will take place
over two days, October 23-24, 2007. Any interested member of the public
will be able to communicate online with panelists from the Project,
Consumers Union, the International Council on Nanotechnology, Oregon
State University, the Meridian Institute and others from 9 a.m. to 5
p.m. each day. To register and participate go to: www.webdialogues.net/pen/consumer.
Additional details about nanotechnology, nano-enabled consumer
products, and related safety questions are available at www.nanotechproject.org.
“Nanotechnology is not a sci-fi fantasy,”
according to Carolyn Cairns from Consumers Union. “Many
consumers are not aware that nanoscale materials are in some
sunscreens, house paints, clothing, and computers being sold in stores
around the country.” This online dialogue aims to increase
people’s understanding of a technology that on the one hand
promises amazing advances in medicine, alternative energy, and other
sectors, but on the other hand, raises the possibility of new health
and environmental hazards. Individuals participating in
ConsumersTalkNano will have an opportunity to discuss with legal,
scientific, and consumer product panelists nanotechnology’s
potential impact on products, and ideas and concerns relating to health
and safety, labeling, and government and industry standards.”
“Our polling and focus groups show that Americans
know little or nothing about nanotechnology but want to know more.
Consumer products - like the Apple iPhone and L’Oreal
RevitalLift face cream - often are the public’s first
introduction to nanotechnology. Public confidence in this new
technology depends on responsible development that includes full
assessment and communication of potential risks as well as
benefits,” said Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies Director
A program like ConsumersTalkNano is long overdue. Since fiscal
year 2001, the U.S. has invested over $8 billion in nanotechnology
research. In 2006 alone, over $12 billion was spent worldwide on
nanotechnology research and development by governments and industry.
But little has been devoted to researching safety and other impacts on
consumers. “Outreach efforts like ConsumersTalkNano can help
fill the ‘nano knowledge gap,’” said
Last year, nanotechnology was incorporated into more than $50
billion in manufactured goods. An online list of more than 575
company-identified nanotechnology consumer products - on the market in
shopping malls or over the Internet - is available at www.nanotechproject.org/consumerproducts.
The list includes merchandise from such well-known brands as Samsung,
Chanel, Black & Decker, Wilson and Eddie Bauer. It can be
searched by company, product name, category, or country.
The ConsumersTalkNano website will
be updated with videos, podcasts, and links to further information
about nanotechnology through October 24. The dialogue is free but
participants are asked to register.