Click here to see original article from The Press.

The Press.
8th February 2011.

A big discussion about small things

Is the lipstick or sunscreen you put on safe? What's in your Weet-Bix? These could be up for discussion when the University of Canterbury and the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology present two opportunities to find out about the possible benefits and risks of nanotechnology.

Radio personality Kim Hill, is hosting "A big discussion about small things", in which experts on various aspects of nanotechnology, including environmental effects and economic benefits, will give their views.

Georgia Miller, an international expert from Friends of the Earth Australia, is also giving a public talk on nanotechnology in consumer products.

"Nanotechnology is in more places than you probably know - it's even in the food you eat, but the safety of many of these products is not clear and there has been very little public discussion up until now," said Professor Simon Brown (Physics and Astronomy).

It is claimed that nanotechnology has the potential to solve the world's energy needs, to cure cancer, and to eliminate poverty. If New Zealand businesses could harness new nanotechnologies in a way that gives a competitive edge, the knowledge economy could become a reality. 

However there are also claims that nanotechnology may cause significant health, environment and social issues. These events are intended to generate some discussion around the subject and to give people information, so that they can make up their own minds."

"A big discussion about small things" is open to the public and will cover views from across the spectrum of scientists, Māori, government regulators, business, NGOs and toxicity researchers.

Kim Hill will head the panel of experts that includes Georgia Miller, Dr Shaun Hendy, Dr Jamie Ataria, Dr Sally Gaw, Hans van der Voorn and Lynne Waterson.

The debate looks at what nanotechnology is, what the benefits are going to be, what the downsides are and will New Zealand be a net winner or loser?

The participants are:

Kim Hill is one of New Zealand's best-known broadcasters and journalists, having been host of "Nine to Noon" on National Radio for many years and of the "Face-to-Face" programme on TVNZ. She is currently host of the Saturday Morning Programme on National Radio.

Hans van der Voorn is the Chairman of Izon Science Ltd, a New Zealand nanotechnology company which has developed a very accurate and precise measurement system for nanoparticles and nanometre sized bioparticles. Izon works extensively with nano- and, nanobio- technology researchers around the world.

Georgia Miller is Coordinator of the Friends of the Earth Nanotechnology Project and a passionate campaigner on the dangers of products containing nanomaterials.

Dr Shaun Hendy is an internationally renowned nanotechnology expert and Deputy Director of the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology.

Dr Sally Gaw is a Lecturer in environmental chemistry in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Canterbury. Sally has worked for many years in the field of eco-toxicology. 

Dr Jamie Ataria works for Landcare Research in the Sustainability and Society group. He has a PhD in ecotoxicology and is actively involved in researching Māori views of new technologies

Lynne Waterson is the Environmental Risk Management Authority's nanotechnology expert and represents New Zealand on the international OECD Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials.

 "A big discussion about small things" will take place in the Jack Mann Auditorium at the University of Canterbury College of Education on Wednesday 16 February from 6pm. Georgia Miller's talk will be in the same venue at 6pm on Tuesday 15 February at 6pm.

 Tickets for this event are free, but should be downloaded in advance from http://bigdiscussion.eventbrite.com.

- The Press

Click here to see original article from The Press.