The European Commission Joint Research Council (JRC) recently released the minutes of a roundtable discussion where 'participants discussed the transversal priorities of key sectors of economic growth'; one of these sectors was identified as nanotechnology. The event, entitled 'Scientific Support to European Industrial Competitiveness', looked primarily at sectors concerned with energy, transport and ICT, and areas related to health, food and nutrition.
Nanotechnologies were mainly discussed in the section on health, food and nutrition, where attendees were 'urged to learn from the failure of GMO-acceptance in Europe' when communicating and bringing about the potential of nanotechnology. It was highlighted that the acceptance for nanotechnology 'is not as bad as for GMOs', moreover Steffi Friedrichs, Director General of the NIA, stated that 'a communications strategy should not concentrate on fears in some sectors [such as food and health], but should [also] promote the benefits in various areas'. Other delegates concurred with this approach, stressing that 'studies about risks often take decades' and that such things were slowing down discussions in the field of toxicology for nanomaterials at OECD-level meetings, and that there is a 'need to follow a new approach for technology risk assessments by first defining benefits and then trying to assess the risks'.
Delegates also briefly discussed the use of nanomaterials in the energy sector, saying that a focus should be applied to nanotechnologies as they could lead to a number of benefits, such as a 'photovoltaic system, efficiency of energy conversion, improving the storage technology, new materials, geothermal technologies and to decrease CO2 production'.
Members can read the full minutes from the Roundtable Discussion. Members and non-Members can follow this link to read the JRC's description of the event.