Nanotechnology in the marketplace: how the nanotechnology industry views risk
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Despite uncertainty about the potential human health and environmental risks of nanotechnology, major stakeholders such as regulatory agencies and the nanotechnology industry are already negotiating the emerging regulatory framework for nanotechnology. Because of a relative lack of nano-specific regulations, the future of nanotechnology development will depend greatly on the views held by the nanotechnology industry. This study fills the research gap in understanding how the nanotechnology industry perceives the risks of nanotechnology. This is the first interview-based study of the nanotechnology industry in the United States. Semi-structured, open-ended phone interviews were conducted with 17 individuals involved in the commercialization of nanotechnology in the United States. Results indicate that while the industry acknowledges uncertainty about the potential risks of nanotechnology and takes significant precaution in ensuring the safety of their products, they do not see nanotechnology as novel or risky. They do not believe that uncertainty over risk ought to delay the further development of nanotechnology. The industry sees itself as the primary agent in ensuring consumer safety and believes that consumers are adequately protected. They are also largely benefit-centric and view product labeling as inefficacious.
KeywordsNanotechnology industry Commercialization EH&S risk Novelty Regulation Labeling
I would like to extend my thanks to all those individuals who made this research possible. My ability to do this research has only been possible because of the support and guidance of my mentor, Professor Joseph Conti. I have learned much about the situation surrounding nanotechnology from him, as well as about what it means to be an academic. This research was made possible by a generous grant from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
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