An incredibly small item in Saturday’s Times announced that a Voluntary Reporting Scheme – established by DEFRA – in the UK to record and assess the risks posed by nanoparticles has been created. Scientists have welcomed the announcement, apparently. More likely, they are rather peeved that yet another layer of bureacracy has been added to their workload.
According to the paper, “Little is known of the potential risk to health by the creation through nanoengineering of altered particles.” No doubt, UK tabloids and scaremongers will jump on any future pronouncements as an admission of guilt once the first minute risks are revealed. Forgetting, of course, the enormous risks we face every day simply cross the road or jumping in our nanoparticulate-pumping cars.
Interestingly, there is a get out clause for scientists who may wish to peel back that bureacratic layer. The scheme is entirely voluntary!
So, if you’re an “evil scientist” intent on creating a doomsday scenario on a very, very small scale, then you needn’t worry about being risk assessed, just don’t add your research to the database.