[extropy-chat] FW: ETC Group: COMPETITION ANNOUNCEMENT: Design a Nano-Hazard Symbol

Hughes, James J. James.Hughes at trincoll.edu
Wed Oct 11 01:27:50 UTC 2006

Anders - Submit yours. It would be ironic for a transhumanist to win a
Luddite contest. - J.



ETC Group announces International Graphic Design Competition CALL FOR

Biotechnology, nuclear power, toxic chemicals, electromagnetic radiation
-- each of these technological hazards has a universally recognized
warning symbol associated with it. So why not nanotechnology -- the
world's most powerful (and potentially
dangerous) technology?

Concerned citizens everywhere are invited to submit their designs for a
universal Nanotechnology Hazard Symbol at:  http://www.etcgroup.org/

Entries will be judged by a panel of eminent judges convened by the ETC
Group (Action Group on Erosion Technology and Concentration,
www.etcgroup.org). These judges include Dr. Vyvyan Howard (Editor of the
Journal of Nanotoxicity), Dr. Gregor Wolbring (The Canadian Advisory
Commitee on Nanotech Standardisation), Chee Yoke Ling (Third World
Network), Claire Pentecost (Associate Professor and Chair of the
Photography Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago),
Rory O'Neill (Editor of Hazards magazine) and Dr. Alexis Vlandas
(Nanotechnology Spokesperson for International Network of Engineers and
Scientists for Global Responsibility). Entries will also be judged by
participants at the World Social Forum, Nairobi, Kenya, 20-25 January

The winning entry will be submitted to international standard-setting
bodies responsible for hazard characterisation, to international
governmental organisations and to national governments as a proposed
symbol for nanotechnology hazards.

Closing date: 8 January 2007

A gallery of entries submitted will be available at http://

Why Do We Need a Nano-Hazard Symbol?

Nanotechnology, the manipulation of matter at the tiny level of atoms  
and molecules, has created a new class of materials with unusual  
properties and new toxicities.

It used to be that nanotechnology was the stuff of science fiction.  
Today, however, there are over one thousand nanotechnology companies  
worldwide. Nanoparticles, nanotubes and other engineered  
nanomaterials are already in use in hundreds of everyday consumer  
products, raising significant health, safety and environmental  
concerns. Nanoparticles are able to move around the body and the  
environment more readily than larger particles of pollution. Because  
of their extremely small size and large surface area nanoparticles  
may be more reactive and more toxic than larger particles of the same  
substance. They have been compared to asbestos by leading insurance  
companies who worry their health impact could lead to massive claims.  
At least one US-based insurance company has canceled coverage of  
small companies involved with nanotechnology. Unlike more familiar  
forms of pollution arising from new technologies, nano-hazards  
(potentially endangering consumers, workers and the environment) have  
yet to be fully characterized, regulated or even subject to safety  
testing. The US Food and Drug Administration will have its first  
public meeting about regulating nanomaterials on October 10, 2006.  
Most governments worldwide have yet to even begin thinking about nano- 
regulation. Nonetheless, nanoparticles invisible to the naked eye are  
already in foods, cosmetics, pesticides and clothing without even  
being labelled. Every day laboratory and factory workers could be  
inhaling and ingesting nanoparticles while the rest of us may be  
unwittingly putting them on our skin, in our body or in the environment.

It's not just a safety question. Nanotechnology also raises new  
societal hazards: The granting of patents on nano-scale materials and  
processes, and even elements of the periodic table, allows for  
increased corporate power and monopoly over the smallest parts of  
nature. Some designer nanomaterials may come to replace natural  
products such as cotton, rubber and metals -- displacing the  
livelihoods of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the  
world.  In the near future the merger of nanotechnology with  
biotechnology (in nano-biotechnology applications such as synthetic  
biology) will lead to new designer organisms, modified at the  
molecular level, posing new biosafety threats. Nano-enabled  
technologies also aim to 'enhance' human beings and 'fix' the  
disabled, a goal that raises troubling ethical issues and the specter  
of a new divide between the technologically "improved" and "unimproved."

ETC Group has called for a moratorium on nanoparticle production and  
release to allow for a full societal debate and until such time as  
precautionary regulations are in place to protect workers, consumers  
and the environment. Standard setting bodies around the world are now  
scrambling to agree on nomenclature that can describe nanoparticles  
and nanomaterials. A common, internationally-recognized symbol  
warning of the presence of engineered nanomaterials is equally overdue.

For a short and simple introduction to Nanotechnology see "A Tiny  
Primer on Nano-scale Technologies," available online:  http:// 

Details Of The Competition:

We are asking concerned people everywhere (including artists,  
designers, scientists, students, regulators and members of the  
public) to submit possible designs for an international Nano-Hazard  
warning symbol that could be used to identify the presence of  
nanmoaterials. This symbol could, for example, be placed on products  
containing nanomaterials, in laboratories or factories where workers  
handle nanoparticles, or on containers transporting nanomaterials.  
The symbol should be simple,  easy to recognize and communicate  
clearly the new, potential hazards that result when matter is  
manipulated at the nanoscale (1 billionth of a metre -- the size of  
atoms and molecules).

We encourage participants to be as creative as possible in inventing  
a new nano-hazard symbol. Images can be designed on computer or by  
hand, scanned, photographed or otherwise rendered in 2 dimensions --  
either using colour or in black and white. Entries will be judged on  
their conceptual as well as artistic merit. Descriptions and  
explanations accompanying the entries will be very welcome.

For examples of existing hazard warning symbols for comparison see  

Participants can submit as many different entries as they wish. Each  
entry should be submitted seperately. Entries can be submitted in one  
of 3 ways:
1) Upload electronically using the upload form at http:// 
2) Email as a jpeg or gif file to nanohazard at etcgroup.org
3) Send by post to Nano-Hazard Competition, ETC Group, 431 Gilmour  
Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 0R5. Canada

Please include your name, country and a contact email or postal address.

All submitted entries will be treated as non-copyright and in the  
public domain unless the submitter wishes to place them under a  
creative commons license allowing free non-commercial use (see  
details here http://www.creativecommons.org). Entries submitted with  
copyright conditions (other than creative commons) will not be  
considered. Entries sent by post will not be returned.

The closing date for entries is 8th January 2007.

Judging will be in two parts:

Judging Panel: A selection of entries will first be made by a panel  
of eminent judges chosen by the ETC Group.
This panel includes:
Dr. Vyvyan Howard, Founding editor of the Journal of Nanotoxicology.
Dr. Gregor Wolbring, The Canadian Advisory Commitee on Nanotech  
Chee Yoke Ling, Legal Advisor, Third World Network.
Claire Pentecost, Artist, Writer, Associate Professor and Chair of  
the Photography Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Rory O Neill, Editor of Hazards (trade union workplace safety magazine).
Dr. Alexis Vlandas, Nanotechnology spokesperson for International  
Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility.

Public Judging: The selected entries will then be displayed at the  
World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya (20- 25 January 2007) for civil  
society attendees to judge. We also encourage everyone to view the  
gallery of submitted artwork online and submit comments there.

More Information:

For a short introduction to nanotechnology see:  "A Tiny Primer on  
Nano-scale Technologies" available online:  http://www.etcgroup.org/ 

For an introduction to the toxicity of nanoscale materials see the  
following resources:

"Size Matters" (2003), an ETC Occasional Paper which includes an  
appendix by Dr Vyvyan Howard, Founding Editor of the Journal of  
Nanotoxicology: http://www.etcgroup.org/upload/publication/165/01/ 

ETC Group's 2004 Communique, 'Nano's Troubled Waters'   http:// 

A May 2006 report on nanotechnology in sunscreens and cosmetics by  
Friends of the Earth: http://www.foe.org/camps/comm/nanotech/

A recent scientific evaluation of nanoscale hazards by the European  
Commission's highest level scientific committee on toxicity, The  
Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks:  

A comprehensive overview (2004) of nanoparticle toxicity, "Small  
Matter, Many Unknowns" by Swiss Re, the world's second largest re- 
insurance company: http://www.swissre.com/INTERNET/pwsfilpr.nsf/ 

Take Action:

The US Food and Drug Administration is holding its first-ever public  
hearing to discuss regulatory issues related to nanotechnology on  
October 10, 2006. Despite the fact that the US government spends  
approximately $1 billion per year on nanotech R&D and hundreds of  
consumer products are already on the market, the US government spends  
a paltry $11 million per year on nanotechnology related risk research  
(1.1% of the total budget). Go here for details: http:// 

In May 2006 ETC Group joined the International Center for Technology  
Assessment, Friends of the Earth and other consumer health and  
environmental groups in a legal petition challenging FDA's failure to  
regulate health and environmental threats from nanomaterials  
currently used in consumer products.  The full petition and an  
executive summary are available here:   http://www.icta.org/nanotech/ 

You can send electronic comments to the FDA asking them to properly  
control, regulate and label nanomaterials. An online form is  
available to help you do this via The Center for Food Safety.  Go to:  
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