The citizens jury about nanotechnology that I’m involved in (see here for my last report) has now finished its third week. In week 2 the jurors heard a pair of witnesses from the sceptical side of the debate; Jim Thomas from ETC, and Charles Medawar from Social Audit, a group devoted to questioning the relationship between medicine and the pharmaceutical industry. In week 3, the jury heard from Tony Ryan, a chemistry professor (and colleague) from the University of Sheffield, and David Bott, an industrial chemist who’s had senior positions in BP, Courtaulds and ICI and who now divides his time between advising the DTI, a venture capital company and a couple of nanotechnology start-ups.
I went along to last night’s session to see how things were going. The jury now very much has the bit between its teeth; they’ve found some interesting lines of argument to pursue and are assiduously comparing the different positions of the witnesses they’ve heard, particularly on issues like the motives and trustworthyness of industry. A surprise (to me) visitor last night was Tom Fielden, the environment correspondent of the flagship BBC radio news program “Today”. He was recording some of the proceedings to use in a piece about the Nanojury that they’ll run on the morning the findings are announced. It’s excellent to see that this process is getting some serious interest from the mainstream media.
There’s one more witness to go now, then the jurors have three more evening sessions to discuss their findings and prepare their report. I think it’s going to make interesting (and at the moment, quite unpredictable) reading.