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Posted: October 22, 2009
Germany's Federal Environment Agency creates nanotechnology scare ruckus
(Nanowerk News) As the German weekly Der Spiegel reports, a background paper (in German) on nanotechnology by Germany's Federal Environment Agency earlier this week triggered fearful headlines in some of the country's biggest newspapers. But the agency is distancing itself from the coverage, saying it had presented nothing new in the report – and that it also sees opportunities in nanotechnology.
Breathless headlines about nanotechnology have ruffled feathers at Germany's Federal Environment Agency (UBA) this week. "Nanotechnology can make you sick," and "First official warning in Germany" about the dangers of nanotechnology, the headlines read. "The German Environment Agency warns against nanotechnology."
The maelstrom began earlier this week, when UBA specialists posted a 28-page paper about nanotechnology on their Web site – a move that prompted a very vocal response. But officials at the agency feel they have been misunderstood. They claim the posting is neither a warning nor a new study – it's just a background paper. "We haven't done any of our own research," UBA scientist Wolfgang Dubbert told SPIEGEL ONLINE. Dubbert is one of the authors of the paper, an updated version of a document published in 2006.
René Zimmer, an expert at the Independent Institute for Environmental Concerns (UfU), argues that the paper "really isn't new." He described it as a background paper that "is more or less a compilation of issues UBA had previously raised."