Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday Hours

The Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions Library will be closed from December 24 to January 4 during IIT's winter break. We will resume normal hours on January 5th.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

National Research Council releases report on the NNI's EHS Strategic Plan

Yesterday, the U.S. National Science Council released its independent review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative's (NNI) strategic plan to address the potential human heath, safety, and environmental (EHS) risks associated with nanotechnology research and development. The committee responsible for the report concluded that the NNI's plan suffers from major weaknesses and does not provide either a vision, a coordinated set of research goals, or a plan of action for how these goals shall be achieved. The committee also found that the NNI had not adequately consided the views of the nanotech industry, consumer and environmental groups, or the regulatory actions of states, localities, and foreign countries. They urged the NNI to go beyond only opening up reports to public comment, and to find better ways of engaging stakeholders in the process.

In a statement released the same day, an informal coalition of environmental and business organizations, including the Environmental Defense Fund, the NanoBusiness Alliance, BASF Corporation, and Dupont, published a statement in support of the report's findings.

For more coverage of the report and reactions to its findings, please see the following articles in the New York Times and Science Magazine's "Science Insider" Blog.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Three new Studies on the Public Perception of Nanotechnology R&D

Three new studies on the public perception of nanotechnology research and development have just been made available via advanced online publication of the journal Nature Nanotechnology. The studies show that the factors influencing how members of the public view the perceived risks and benefits of nanotechnology goes far beyond an individual's familiarity or knowledge about the topic. These studies also look at some of the differences in the public perception of nanotechnology between the U.S., Europe, and the United Kingdom.

Links to abstracts below.

Cultural cognition of the risks and benefits of nanotechnology

Dan M. Kahan, Donald Braman, Paul Slovic, John Gastil, and Geoffrey Cohen

Deliberating the risks of nanotechnologies for energy and health applications in the United States and United Kingdom

Nick Pidgeon, Barbara Herr Harthorn, Karl Bryant, and Tee Rogers-Hayden

Religious beliefs and public attitudes toward nanotechnology in Europe and the United States

Dietram A. Scheufele, Elizabeth A. Corley, Tsung-jen Shih, Kajsa E. Dairymple, and Shirley S. Ho.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

New Resource for Nanotechnology R&D in Europe

For individuals interested in the international development and use of nanotechnology, the observatoryNANO web site will soon become an important source for reports on nanotechnology R&D in Europe.

Reports from the observatoryNANO project cover

- scientific and technological developments,
- economic and market information,
- ethical and societal issues,
- environment, health and safety issues,
- developments in regulations and standards
- governance, communication and engagement tools

The observatoryNano project’s main goal is to collect and analyze data regarding scientific and technological trends (including peer-reviewed publications, patents, roadmaps, published company data) and economic realities and expectations (including market analysis and economic performance, public and private funding strategies) related to the research and development of nanotechnology. The consortium of institutes involved in this project will also supplement this information with assessment of social and ethical issues, nanotechnology’s impact on health, environment and safety, as well as regulation, standardization, and legislative issues. This data will provide European decision-makers in government, industry and finance with objective information on which to base their future decisions regarding the future of nanotechnology R&D in Europe. This four-year project is funded through the EU’s FP7 research program, and has the final goal of establishing a permanent European Observatory on Nanotechnologies to provide ongoing independent support to decision-makers.

The web site already includes interim reports on ten technology sectors, and the first edition of its newsletter. The sections on societal issues, regulation and standards, and human health, safety, and the environment are still under construction.