Sunday, February 19, 2006

European Industry-Government Collaboration on Safe Nano

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and 13 European companies involved in nanotech research have teamed up for a new research program on nano safety called NanoCare. What's interesting about this--aside from the fact that "nanocare" is also used to describe the technology behind stain-resistant khakis--is that the German government and industry are pooling resources, with each contributing EUR 5 million and EUR 2.6 million respectively.

Public outreach and information will apparently be an integral part of the project. “We place great value on communication with interested sections of society,” says Dr. Franz Saykowski, manager of the NanoCare project at Bayer--one of the industry partners. “As with any new technology, people have to be convinced of the benefits of nanotechnology.” And that also means having a public debate about risks and befits--at least for the German Ministry of Education and Research. As undersecretary Thomas Rachel puts it: "Die Potenziale der Nanotechnologie nutzen heißt auch, verantwortungsvoll zu handeln, nach den Auswirkungen zu fragen und, wenn notwendig, Vorsorge zu treffen [In order to utilize the full potential of nanotech, we also have to act responsibly, explore all its impacts and--if necessary--take the necessary precautions."