Public interest the big loser in nanotechnology debate

\PublicQueensland Conservation Council (QCC) and Friends of the Earth (FoE) today warned that tomorrow’s Science in Parliament briefing on nanotechnology, organised by Queensland’s Chief Scientist, shows unacceptable pro-industry bias and ignores nanotechnology’s serious new risks.

Joint Press Release

Queensland Conservation Council (QCC) and Friends of the Earth (FoE) today warned that tomorrow’s Science in Parliament briefing on nanotechnology, organised by Queensland’s Chief Scientist, shows unacceptable pro-industry bias and ignores nanotechnology’s serious new risks.

 

Nanotechnology, the ‘science of the small’ is predicted by the Chief Scientist to bring big changes across every industry and to “transform our world”. It is now used, unlabelled, in sunscreens, cosmetics, food packaging, clothing and household appliances. Yet ‘nanomaterials’ pose serious new toxic risks. Two recent studies have found that exposure to carbon nanotubes causes asbestos-like disease in mice.

“The Queensland Government and the Chief Scientist are supporting rapid expansion of the nanotechnology industry but are trying to stifle critical debate about its risks and challenges”, said Friends of the Earth nanotechnology spokesperson Georgia Miller.

“Tomorrow’s Science in Parliament event appears like an attempt to shore up big dollars for the emerging industry, without any attempt to address its new health and environment risks and social and ethical issues” said Queensland Conservation, Executive Director, Toby Hutcheon.

“This appears to be an abuse of ‘Science in Parliament’”.

“Ministers and Members of Parliament are not getting the full story on nanotechnology,” said Mr Hutcheon.

“The United Kingdom’s Royal Society has said that given their toxicity risks, all nanomaterials should be treated as new chemicals and subject to new safety testing before being allowed in consumer products i . Yet MPs are unlikely to hear this as NGOs concerned about risks are being kept out of the debate”, said Ms Miller.

“The recent ‘Nanodialogues’ public consultation also failed to involve civil society groups, unlike similar overseas public dialogues,” said Ms Miller

“The Queensland Conservation Council and Friends of the Earth call for a full and proper public debate, which involves civil society groups, before Queensland commits further support to this industry” said Mr Hutcheon.

For comment:

Georgia Miller, Friends of the Earth 0437 979 402

Toby Hutcheon, Queensland Conservation 07 3221 0188/0419 664 503

 

i P86 Recommendations 10 and 12 (i), The Royal Society and The Royal Academy of Engineering, UK (2004). Nanoscience and nanotechnologies. Available at http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/