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December 9, 2013

Germany Publishes Results of Research Project on the Perception of Nanotechnology

Lynn L. Bergeson

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) announced on November 27, 2013, that it completed NanoView, a research project on the perception of nanotechnology by the German population and media. Under the project, BfR examined whether the population’s perceptions and attitudes towards nanotechnology have changed over the last five years, as well as whether the presentation of nanotechnology in the media has changed.  According to BfR, the results show that the majority of respondents are still largely unfamiliar with the term nanotechnology, and that fewer reports on the subject appear in the media than five years ago. BfR notes that, despite the existing knowledge gaps, a “clear majority” see the benefits of nanotechnology as outweighing any potential risks.  BfR describes a “noteworthy” finding regarding the differences between the sexes, in that “men’s attitudes towards nanotechnology are clearly more positive than those of women; men are more likely to advocate nanotechnology.”  BfR states: “By implementing a targeted communications strategy, the BfR strives to make a contribution to closing the knowledge gaps.  In particular, the different information needs of men and women must be taken into account: men tend to prefer fact-based information about nanotechnology, whereas women would like recommendations relevant to everyday life that they can easily convert into concrete behaviour.”