Nanotechnology is an important and rapidly growing field of scientific and practical innovation that will fundamentally transform our understanding of how materials and devices interact with human and natural environments. Today, it is considered a foundational technology that contributes to advanced materials.
Transformations enabled by nanotechnologies may offer great benefits to society, including improvements in medical diagnostics and treatments, water and waste treatment systems, and many others. However, the social, economic, political and ethical implications, as well as the risks, are also significant.
In fact, nanotechnology raises issues that are more complex and far-reaching than many other innovations and poses significant challenges to risk governance structures and processes.
IRGC’s projects on Nanotechnology (2006-2008 and then 2019-2022) were designed to help address these challenges.
European project on nanotechnology risk governance
In 2019-2002, IRGC was a partner in NANORIGO (NANOtechnology RIsk GOvernance), a Horizon 2020 project tasked with developing a Nanotechnology Risk Governance Framework (RGF) and a dedicated European organisation that would be responsible for improving the governance of risks from manufactured nanomaterials and nano-enabled products and systems (advanced materials) (read more).
Early work: nanotechnology risk governance
IRGC first addressed the risk governance of nanotechnology in a project that began in early 2005. Using the IRGC’s risk governance framework as a conceptual starting point and with the contribution of experts at two technical workshops, the project team worked to understand the benefits, risks and governance mechanisms associated with the technology (read more).
Nanotechnology in Food and Cosmetics
In 2007, IRGC applied the findings of its early work to specific challenges posed when nanotechnology is used in food and cosmetics, which had become a cause of concern for consumers and the public (read more).
- Appropriate Risk Governance Strategies for Nanotechnology Applications in Food and Cosmetics (Policy Brief, 2009)
- Risk Governance of Nanotechnology Applications in Food and Cosmetics (Report, 2008)
- Nanotechnology Risk Governance (Policy Brief, 2007)
- Nanotechnology Risk Governance (White Paper, 2006)