According to a news release on Azonano, China leads the world in number of chemistry patents filed. From the news release,
Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS), the global expert on chemical information, reports that China’s patent office is now the world’s leading producer of patent invention applications in chemistry. China trailed Japan’s patent office, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for more than a decade, but passed the USPTO in 2005, WIPO in 2006, and exceeded Japan for the first time on a monthly basis in 2008. In 2009, China will record an entire year as the number one producer of chemical patents, and CAS projects that trend to continue.
This certainly fits with everything else I’ve noted on this blog: China is leading or about to become the leader in a number of scientific and technological endeavours. Correspondingly, there have been a lot of anxious articles about this situation in the US ,which has been the undisputed leader for so long. This morning a Fast Company article by Zachary Wilson (Perk Up, USA: You Still Got Your Innovation Mojo) presented a refreshing change of pace vis a vis the China/US innovation race. From the article,
According to a new survey on global innovation conducted by Newsweek and Intel, the United States is suffering from a serious self-esteem problem. The online questionnaire, conducted between Sept. 28 and Oct. 13 of this year, polled 4,800 adults in the U.S., China, Germany, and the U.K. about thoughts on the world’s innovation leaders.
To start, the graph below [see article] shows that
- while more than 70% of Americans think the U.S. is a technologically innovative country,
- only 41% think that the United States is staying ahead of China on innovation.
- more than 80% of the Chinese think that the U.S. is innovative and is staying ahead of China on innovation.
It seems the world has gotten the recession blues–no one believes in themselves anymore.
Yup, the Chinese are worried about their innovation capabilities. If you do the arithmetic (and assume the questions in the poll were neutral i.e. not designed to elicit certain kinds of responses), 59% of Americans believe that the US is more innovative than China; while 20% of Chinese believe that China is more innovative than the US.
I think this helps to put the Canadian situation into perspective since it seems everyone is worried about their innovative capabilities.
Serendipitously as I’ve been thinking about Australia, Friends of the Earth (FOE) has released a cautionary briefing on the heels of this week’s release of information about Germany’s resistance to the European Union’s new regulations about labeling nanomaterials in cosmetic products. From the news release on Azonano,
Testing commissioned by Friends of the Earth has found nanoparticles in foundations and concealers sold by big name brands, including Revlon, Clarins, Clinique, Max Factor, the Body Shop, L’Oréal, By Terry and Lancôme Paris.
The use of nanoparticles in high exposure consumer applications such as cosmetics has attracted increasing controversy as evidence of potential toxicity has grown.
In May, NSW Minister for Science and Research, Ms Jodi McKay, said the NSW Government would raise the possibility of labelling nanoparticles in cosmetics and sunscreens with the Federal Government, but as yet nano-cosmetics remain unlabelled.
“Friends of the Earth believes that Australian women shouldn’t be used as guinea pigs by the big cosmetics companies and the nanotechnology industry”, said Friends of the Earth nanotechnology spokesperson Georgia Miller.
(FOE’s briefing paper can be downloaded from here.) I think the timing is interesting; I’m not sure I can draw conclusions about it but they were pretty quick to produce a report about sunscreens and titanium dioxide after some Japanese researchers found evidence of possible toxicological effects. Interestingly FOE failed to cite a report from the Environmental Working Group (released just previously to the study by the Japanese researchers) that gave nano sunscreens a somewhat clean bill of health. Btw, the Environmental Working Group is not usually friendly to business and industry so their ‘passing grade’ was a bit of a surprise. I discussed the matter more fully in my August 21, 2009 posting. (If you are interested in titanium dioxide and its possible toxicology, there has been a more recent study [noted in my Nov.18, 2009 posting] from the Jonsson Cancer Center [University of California, Los Angeles] that seems to confirm the results from the Japanese study. )
One more item about Australia and this time it’s about their nanotechnology and public engagement efforts. From the news item on Azonano,
Greater transparency and public engagement about the potential opportunities and risks presented by nanotechnology is required, according to a new report by The Australia Institute.
While still an emerging field, nanoscale sciences and technologies (nanoST) are already present in our daily lives, with more than 1000 consumer products identified as containing nanomaterials. While the science has been quickly adopted in products such as cosmetics, sunscreens, household appliances and cleaning products, the health and environmental risks associated with nanoST are still hotly contested.
In a recent report comparing regulatory governance of nanotechnology in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and Europe, Australia was not described as setting ‘best practice’ standards in the coordination of governance, information gathering, weighing risks against benefits and having an accountable and transparent approach.
If you are interested in the report by the Australia Institute (author: Dr. Fern Wickson), go here, scroll down, and download What you should know about nano.
I give Australia higher marks than Canada in terms of public engagement and nanotechnology. There is discussion in Canada about benefits, risks, and regulations but most of it is behind closed doors while there seems to be no interest in any kind of public engagement.
Tags: Australia, Australia Institute, beauty and cosmetics, CAS, Chemical Abstracts Services, chemistry, China, Fern Wickson, FOE, Friends of the Earth, innovation, nanoparticles, nanotech, nanotechnology, patents, public engagement, US, What you need to know about nano, Zachary Wilson