Iíve been spending increasing amounts of time analysing the environmental effects (or not) of nanotechnology from almost every possible angle for what seems like an eternity, or at least some of those government committees seem that way. While it is all relevant, for example considering what to do about the nanoparticles now being emitted by automobiles as a result of increased engine efficiency, or where the particles from tyres end up, science is only a part of it.
Public opinion, especially in Europe, is playing an increasing role in shaping corporate attitudes to technology. As I was recently chairing a panel session on the environment in Munich, I took the opportunity to ask Greenpeaceís Chief Scientific Advisor how he sees the nanotech community. Despite the spat of name calling that followed last years Greenpeace report on nanotechnology, the response was surprisingly positive. Yes, companies involved in nanotech are being more responsible than those involved with GMOs. Well, it would be hard to do any worse!
Doug Parr of Greenpeace was also at pains to ensure that the audiences understood that Greenpeace does not have a position on nanotechnology as a whole, simply the environmental issues raised by it. That science and business is being, and perhaps equally importantly, being seen to be responsible about nanotech can be seen as a positive result, both for industry and environmental NGOs.