Inderscience Publishers

Anticipatory governance of nanotechnologies. A conceptual framework

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Nanotechnologies offer new scientific, industrial and societal development horizons. However, concerns have been expressed about the possible hazards which nanotechnologies could induce. They arise in a context in which nanoproducts grow quickly on the consumption market, casting doubts on the relevance of the regulation frameworks used to assess nanotechnological risks. In this paper, we first provide evidences that these doubts are supported by years of regulation issues between scientists, politics, industries, and civil society especially regarding nanotechnological risks. We argue that such issues can be better understood when we take into account within the same frame the different positions of scientists, politics, industrials and civil society towards the responsibility and the control of nanotechnologies on the one hand, and the safety and the desirability of these technologies on the other hand. This conceptual framework enables to consider the interplay of these four dimensions in order to deepen the issues bound to public governance initiatives, and to draw preliminary observations regarding their consequences for our societies.

Keywords: nanotechnology, risk, governance, regulation, public initiatives, nanoproducts, cosmetics, food, health, science, industry, politics, society, technology control, technology safety, technology desirability

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