“Nobody Told Me I was a Nano-Consumer:” How Nanotechnologies Might Challenge the Notion of Consumer Rights
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Regarding nanotechnologies and the consumer, a central paradox is the absence of a regulatory framework while more than 1,000 nano-enabled products are already available on the consumer markets. This represents a serious challenge for the consumer interest. Even though the prospects of nanotechnologies are truly fascinating and represent possibilities to solve major problems—for instance in the realms of health, energy and poverty—it is important to also discuss the potential risks of nano-enabled products. The present study reports on a Norwegian study with data derived from focus groups, a content analysis of advertisements, packaging and labels for cosmetics as well as on a Norwegian consumer survey. Conceptually, the paper is based on the notion of consumer rights introduced by President J.F. Kennedy in 1962. Based on the results of these studies, consumer policy implications are sketched.
KeywordsConsumer rights Nanotechnologies Nano-enabled products Consumer information
We would like to thank our project colleagues Sally Randles and Christian Greiffenhagen at Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, as well as research director at SIFO and project leader of this project Eivind Stø for inspiring discussions and collaboration. We would also like to thank two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments. Financial support from the NANOMAT-programme of the Research Council of Norway is gratefully acknowledged (Project grant no. 182043).
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