Tomorrow I’ll be speaking on “public perceptions” at the Nanotech & Food conference in DC. Rather than a discourse on public perceptions of nanotech in general — which are as yet pretty vague — I’ll focus on what consumers expect from their food companies in terms of responsible decisions on which engineered nanoparticles, if any, are okay to put in food. It’s pretty straightforward: consumers expect food to be safe, and they expect food companies to make reasonable efforts to keep it that way. Since food in the more developed part of the world is already relatively inexpensive, consumers are understandably less tolerant of risk-taking here than they are, say, in their medical products. Note that the posted schedule is out of date: my talk is on Tuesday afternoon, not Wednesday morning.
Why bother with this relatively mundane issue? Because if the food industry messes this up, the rest of nanotech will (unfairly) suffer as well, all the way from simple nanomaterials to advanced productive nanosystems. It’s worth some preventive action. —Christine