Nanotechnologies: Where should they take us? Have your say

What do 350 Europeans think about using nanoparticles in food packaging?

Opinion

What do 350 Europeans think about using nanoparticles in food packaging?

Mon, 1 Jul 2013
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Different readers show different opinions on whether they would use a lunch box already available in the market which contains silver nanoparticles in the plastic making food last longer. These are the preliminary results of the first NanOpinion poll that was published last month on the newspapers The Guardian and El Mundo and on our NanOpinion website.  The poll aimed at analysing whether the benefit of making food last longer was higher than the possible risks for health or for the environment of using such nanoparticles. The poll aimed at finding out if European citizens would be ready to use anti-bacterial lunch boxes containing nano-particles.

Over 350 people answered the poll, and some interesting divergences came out from the results obtained from the different websites where it was published. Both NanOpinion and El Mundo visitors voted mostly in favour of using this product, with 63% of votes being in favour of using the lunch boxes on the NanOpinion Website and 76% of votes on the El Mundo site. In contrast a slight majority of The Guardian readers (57% of votes) said they would rather not use it.

The reason for the different results might be diverse and depend on the different reader groups. What might have influenced the poll as well is that in The Guardian the poll coincided with the publication of its supplement on “The future of food: Nanomaterials in our diet”, where readers could find information on safety, risks and benefits of nano applications in food. It may also have affected readers’ opinions the fact that they have been more exposed through the media to some controversial ethical, legal and social aspects around those technologies, while in other countries such a debate has not occurred at all or has happened in a lower intensity.

We do not know whether the results would have been more similar on the different media if every poll had included the same context information. But despite the results change or not depending on the context, what seems to be clear is that nanOpinion has a great challenge to tackle, how to steer discussion providing good background information in order to start the debate.

This project should give us insights on how to promote such debates. There are another 8 polls to come within the next months and we’ll observe further how they reflect or contribute to actual debates.

There is definitely a need to facilitate information and public consultations to gather the public opinion on nanotechnology applications, and we will be very happy to hear how you think we could improve how we are doing it in nanOpinion.

With all the results from our polls and the questionnaire, latter we will produce a report with conclusions which will be facilitated to politicians in the European Parliament.

Thanks to all our readers for making it possible.

 

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About nanopinion

  • nanopinion is an EC-funded project bringing together 17 partners from 11 countries with the aim of monitoring public opinion on what we hope from innovation with nanotechnologies. The project is aimed citizens with a special focus on hard-to-reach target groups, which are people who do not normally encounter and give their opinion nanotechnologies at first hand.
  • Dialogue is facilitated online and in outreach events in 30 countries presenting different participatory formats.
  • To promote an informed debate, we also run a strong press & social media campaign and offer a repository with more than 150 resources.
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