German consumers demand labeling of nanotech products
Consumers who attended the conference on nanotechnology last week in Berlin called for comprehensible labeling of products containing engineered nanoparticles. The group's demands formulated in a vote were presented to representatives of the Bundestag (German parliament) and other federal agencies.
"With the consumer conference on nanotechnology we are the first public agency in Germany to try out this risk communication tool", said Dr. Andreas Hensel, President the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR).
"Our experience shows that an event of this kind is well suited to involving consumers in the scientific debate about the assessment of new technologies. When making their judgment, consumers took a very differentiated look at the potential risks and benefits of nanotechnology based on knowledge of the latest research and the existing uncertainty".
Every time I see a call for labeling nanotech products I think of the prediction by Mihail Rocco, director of the NSF's National Nanotechnology Initiative: "By 2015-just 10 years time-I expect at least half of the newly designed advanced materials and manufacturing processes will be built using control at the nanoscale in at least one of the key components."
Do we really want to commit to labeling that will involve half our products? Who will even pay attention to a label when it's on most products? (photo BfR)