Chemical industry giant, BASF (based in Ludwigshafen, Germany) released its final ‘Dialog Forum Nano 2011/2012’ report today, Nov. 22, 2012. Sadly, I don’t read German but if you can, the report can be found here. The Nov. 22, 2012 news item on Nanowerk provides more information about the report (Note: I have removed a link),
BASF’s Dialog Forum Nano is presenting its final report (pdf) for the dialog phase 2011/2012 today, November 22, in Berlin. The aim of the regular dialog with representatives from research institutes, labor unions, commerce, industry, churches as well as environmental and consumer organizations was to generate joint recommendations for improving transparency in communication about nanomaterials from manufacturers to consumers. “The Dialog Forum Nano is a good example of how BASF is innovative not only in using new technologies to develop new products, but also in communication about these technologies,” said Wolfgang Weber, Vice President Communications & Government Relations BASF Group. “Our positive experience shows that we are on the right track. We will therefore continue the dialog series in future.”
The Nov. 22, 2012 BASF news release, which originated the news item, provides more detail about the company’s nano dialogue initiative,
BASF has conducted the Dialog Forum Nano since 2008, making it the only company in Germany to pursue a regular dialog on the topic of nanotechnology. “It is very important for us that a trusting and constructive cooperation has developed over the years. We have entered into many – sometimes difficult – discussions and have reviewed our own positions,” explained the organizer Carolin Kranz, Senior Manager Communications & Government Relations. Participant Rolf Buschmann of the North Rhine-Westphalia Consumer Advice Center stated: “The Dialog Forum Nano represents an innovative and successful approach to stakeholder communication which has been decisively shaped by the special commitment and willingness of the participants from many different areas of business and society to engage in discussions.” The Dialog Forum Nano was developed and moderated by the organization “Dialog Basis”. [emphasis mine]
Over several months the dialog partners discussed which scientific information is available, where knowledge gaps exist and how information can be usefully presented to consumers. The topics were partially based on specific consumer inquiries and numerous expert assessments. Using the examples of dirt-repellent and antimicrobial textiles as well as paints and coatings, the joint final report contains recommendations on how information can be gathered within the companies along the supply chain in order to facilitate communication with consumers. At today’s event in Berlin, the results of the dialog phase 2011/2012 will be presented and discussed with Ulrike Höfken, Minister for Environment, Agriculture, Food, Wine Growing and Forestry of the Federal State of Rhineland Palatinate, and others.
I searched for Dialog Basis (German language site) and found that the managing director is Dr. Antje Grobe who was mentioned in my Nov. 9, 2012 posting about the 2012 S.NET (Society for the Study of Nanoscience and Emerging Technologies) conference in the Netherlands where she spoke about public engagement but made no mention of BASF that I can recall.
BASF does have a ‘webspace’ devoted to nanotechnology on its website in English. Interestingly and predictably, the information on safety is centered on BASF’s safety practices regarding their workers and the impact their products might have on consumers and the environment. I did not find any mention of concerns and uncertainties about carbon nanotubes, silver particles, or any other nanomaterials in my admittedly superficial search. Still, I do find this exercise in public engagement quite intriguing.