Public engagement in nanotechnology – the UK government publishes its outline programme

The UK government has taken another step forward towards implementing some of the recommendations of the Royal Society Report on nanotechnology. Its initial response was published in February to not entirely universal acclaim (see here for my analysis). Today it published its outline programme for public engagement on nanotechnologies, available as a PDF here. This mostly brings together a number of existing elements. The major new development is the establishment of the Nanotechnology Engagement Group – “The Nanotechnology Engagement Group (NEG) is being established to support public bodies in developing a wider programme of social and ethical research and public dialogue around nanotechnology. It will also draw more general lessons for the governance of other emerging science and technology areas.” The NEG will be run by a new NGO called Involve. I see that Richard Wilson, the director of Involve, is getting off to a good start in asserting his independence of Government; he writes on his blog “The Involve Group … already has real concerns as to whether the programme outlined is up to the challenges posed.” I’ll get a chance to judge for myself, as I’ve accepted the role of chair of the NEG.