A citizens' conference on nanotechnologies in France found public information on nanosciences difficult to access for non-specialists.
The Council for the Ile-de-France region held a Citizen' conference on nanosciences and nanotechnologies on 20 January 2007.
Following discussions with experts, the citizens' panel conveyed its views and recommendations on nanotechnologies on 22 January 2007. The citizens addressed the issues of evaluation of risks linked to nanotech, ethics, communication and legislation and comment the fields of application of nanosciences, such as health, military or environment.
A majority of the panel declared itself in favour of nanotechnologies, but emphasised that the economic benefits of nanotech could in no way be reached at the expense of ethics. The panel also recommends improving communication on nanotechnologies to the general public as it finds current information on the issue "elitist and reserved to specialists".
The conference was first of its kind in the Council for Ile-de-France's strive to find new ways to involve public opinion in political decisions about science. This experiment brought together a panel of 16 people, selected by a national polling organisation and considered representative of the French society, to work on the nanotech issues one weekend per month. After getting into the subject, the panel auditioned, on 20 January 2007, nanotechnology experts on the matters it considered important and delivered its conclusions.
The Council for the Ile-de-France region has promised to take these recommendations into account in its future decisions concerning nanotech technology.