A question of balance or blind faith?: Scientists' and science policymakers' representations of the benefits and risks of nanotechnologies [Book Review]

NanoEthics 1 (3):243-256 (2007)
In recent years, in the UK and elsewhere, scientists and science policymakers have grappled with the question of how to reap the benefits of nanotechnologies while minimising the risks. Having recognised the importance of public support for future innovations, they have placed increasing emphasis on ‘engaging’ ‘the public’ during the early phase of technology development. Meaningful engagement suggests some common ground between experts and lay publics in relation to the definition of nanotechnologies and of their benefits and risks. However, views on nanotechnologies are likely to vary according to where actors stand in the technology production/consumption/assessment cycle. Drawing on data from a recent UK-based study, this article examines how scientists (‘upstream’ and ‘downstream’) and policymakers portray the benefits and risks of nanotechnologies, particularly as they relate to two major areas of predicted application, namely medicine/public health and environmental sustainability. The findings reveal that, in the main, scientists and science policymakers held a positive conception of nanotechnologies and see imminent applications, although they acknowledged particular risks, including adverse public reaction. While definitions of ‘benefit’ and ‘risk’ varied, most saw the benefits as outweighing the risks and believed that the risks could be adequately regulated once they were assessed. The difficulties of assessing risk, however, were acknowledged. The study raises a number of questions that will need to be addressed if regulations are to be developed that not only protect people’s heath and wellbeing and the environment but also engender public trust in nanotechnologies.
Keywords Nanoparticles  Scientists  Science policymakers  Risk  Regulation  Trust  Public engagement  Medicine  Public health  Environmental sustainability
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11569-007-0021-8
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 28,126
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Making Truth: Metaphor in Science.Theodore L. Brown - 2008 - University of Illinois Press.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

15 ( #315,980 of 2,171,820 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #326,616 of 2,171,820 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums