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Americans unaware of nanotechnology

Well, it is very small and hard to see

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

A report published in the December issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology highlights the fact that 69 per cent of Americans have heard little or nothing about nanotechnology, despite the fact that this Christmas there are over 350 nanotechnology-based products on the shelves.

The report, entitled What drives public acceptance of nanotechnology?, highlights the author's concerns that the US will accept the technology without informed review. Neal Lane, one of the authors and former science advisor to Bill Clinton, said:

"More young people are seeing nanotechnology in advertisements for MP3 players than are learning about nanotechnology in schools."

But while few people know what nanotechnology is, they aren't much concerned about the health risks which might be associated with it. US consumers were found to be perfectly happy to see nanotechnology used in products such as drugs, cosmetics, and car tyres as long as there were significant benefits; even with some health and safety risk.

And before any UK readers start getting cocky, the last survey in the UK found that only 19 per cent of people could give a definition of nanotechnology - accurate or not.

The report recommends a three phased approach: more research into the health implications, greater education in schools, and a massive program of public education to allow informed choice. ®

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