The UK government “outlined a number of pledges to ensure the responsible development” of nanotechnologies today, After what must have taken the various committees several man centuries to get any kind of agreement on, Science Minister Lord Drayson thundered:
“The Government is committed to the responsible development of nanotechnologies. We will work with all interested parties – including the public – to develop a suitable strategy that addresses both the exploitation of technologies and the management of potential risks.”
Bilmey! Isn’t that what they said they were going to do back in 2004? To give the government credit, there does seem to have been some agreement about which government department is going to what, but most of the commitments amount to classic Whitehall obfuscation, committing the Government to develop dialogues, consult industry etc. rather than anything which could be construed as positive action.
In summary then
We didn’t have a clue what was going on with nanomaterials five years ago so we did loads of consultation and set up a number of working groups and discovered that most people didn’t understand either and weren’t too bothered, which made us even more confused. So now, as we have plenty of cash to splash around, and in the absence of any better ideas we’ll do it all again, but bigger.
The thing that made me want to pack up and leave the country on the next boat to Shanghai or San Francisco is the involvement of the dreaded Ministry of Fun, notorious for scope creep and generally forcing up business costs by assuming that every atom in the Universe is hazardous and requiring appropriate procedures/committees/supervisors/training to be introduced and documented before it can be used. At a minimum you can expect anyone working with nanomaterials to have to wear a fluorescent jacket.
More Health and Safety lunacy is chronicled here.