Realizing the cruicial role of utilizing nanotechnology in everyday life, Thailand is taking necessary steps to building public awareness to direct and indirect effects of nanomaterials and nanaoproducts to health and environment. A special public seminar supported by NANOTEC, NSTDA, UNITAR (United nations Institute for Training and Research), and Swiss Confederation was recently held in Khon Kaen during NanoThailand 2012 to address the topic of “Society, Nanosafety and Ethics on Nanotechnology Development”. Panel speakers on the topic of “Public knowledge of nanotechnology development” included Dr. Apisak Teeravisit (Development Science, Khon Kaen University), Dr. Suchin Simarak (Ford Rural System Research Project, Khon Kaen University), and Dr. Nalinee Sripaung (Ministry of Public Health).
During his opening remarks, Dr. Sirasak Teparkum, Deputy Executive Director of NANOTEC told the participants that nanotechnology in the form of finish products are already among us whether we like it or not. He went on to say that it is estimated that the global nanotechnology market will be USD 27 Billion by 2015. The largest segment of the market, made up of nanomaterials, is expected to increase at a rate of 14.7%, from nearly $10 billion in 2010 to nearly $19.6 billion in 2015. It is necessary for developing countries such as Thailand and the region to increase public awareness campaign to the safety of nanotechnology development and its applications. Regulators must put in place necessary monitor and control mechanism to regulate nanotechnology.
Since 2012, Thailand has established a Nanosafety and Ethics Strategic Plan (2012-2016). The aim of the plan is to work in parallel with nanotechnology development thus preventing and minimizing potential risks related to nanomaterials and nanotechnology applications. The plan also aim to establish three strategies: establishment of knowledge management center, develop and reinforce measures, and promote public engagement activities.
NANOTEC and UNITAR have signed a Memorandum of Agreement in September 2011 to implement a Training and Capacity Building for the Development of the Nano-Safety Pilot project in Thailand (phase 1). The Nano Inception/Awareness Raising Workshop is part of the 18 month project.
NANOTEC recognizes the importance of public input and participation on matters related to nanosafety and for this reason it is organizing several public workshops to address this topic. A previous workshop was held early this year in Bangkok. The objective of the workshop sessions is to seek public perception on nanosafety strategic plan. The workshop allows representatives from the public sector to submit their comments to the Secretariat of the Nanosafety Strategic Plan Working Group. The final outcome of these discussions is to explore ways to finalize the draft national Nanosafety Strategic Plan to be presented to the cabinet in 2012. This is a Thailand initiative that requires the support and input of all public and private sectors.