Raising consumer awareness about nanotechnologyNanoparticles are already found in more than 1,000 over-the-counter products and there are more than 500 Swiss companies that utilise the new technology either in research or production. However, its widespread use is largely unknown to the Swiss public and has come about without any serious studies on the possible health or environmental impact.
"Over the past 20 years nanotechnology has been presented as revolutionary from a scientific point of view – in the sense that it modifies production processes and allows for advances in electronics, medicine, renewable energy and agriculture," explained Marc Audétat, Science Researcher at Lausanne University.
The hopes of researchers are many: there is talk of a gel that will promote the re-growth of teeth, or even the slowing of the effects of ageing.
If these developments remain the stuff of science fiction for the moment, the doubts surrounding the new technology are real. That is why the consumers’ federation in French-speaking Switzerland together with the University’s Science Platform have jointly launched a campaign to raise awareness among the public, and to stimulate debate on the pros and cons of nanotechnology.
Part of the campaign is an exhibition that opened this autumn and will travel across the country next year.