Community Engagement to Facilitate, Legitimize and Accelerate the Advancement of Nanotechnologies in Australia
- 178 Downloads
There are increasing calls internationally for the development of regulation and policies related to the rapidly growing nanotechnologies sector. As part of the process of policy formation, it is widely accepted that deliberative community engagement processes should be included, enabling publics to have a say about nanotechnologies, expressing their hopes and fears, issues and concerns, and that these will be considered as part of the policy process. The Australian Federal and State governments have demonstrated a commitment to these ideals, undertaking a number of public engagement activities in recent years. However, despite promises that these community engagement activities will enable policy makers to identify complex and contested community attitudes, and that these will be included as part of the policy making process, a closer look at Australia’s engagement activities reveals something quite different. Through an analysis of a number of Australia’s nano-engagement activities, this paper demonstrates the limits of public engagement related to the development of nanotechnology related policies and regulation in Australia. Our analysis reveals the extent to which industry interests have captured policy makers and regulators, dissenting voices have been excluded from engagement processes, and engagement processes have not connected with actual policy making activities. Reflecting on these limits, this paper concludes with recommendations for improving public engagement processes related to nanotechnologies in Australia.
KeywordsCommunity engagement Deliberative governance Nanodialogues Nano-regulatory debates Publics Public engagement Regulation
We would like to acknowledge funding from a Griffith University Research Grant (GURG) and the Centre for Governance and Public Policy at Griffith University. Both have assisted in the conduct of this research.
- 2.Australian Government (2008a) Approach to the Responsible Management of Nanotechnology. Retrieved April 12, 2009, from http://www.innovation.gov.au/Industry/Nanotechnology/Documents/ObjectivesPaper.pdf.
- 3.Australian Government (2008b) Launch of ATSE Energy and Nanotechnologies Report, Media Release, Senator Carr, Innovation Minister. Retrieved April 18, 2009, from http://minister.innovation.gov.au/Carr/Pages/launchofatseenergyandnanotechnologiesreport.aspx.
- 4.Australian Government (2009) Nanotechnology and social inclusion report released, Media Release, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, 26/2/09.Google Scholar
- 5.Australian Greens (2008) Greens ‘New Century’ Australia Senate Agenda. Retrieved July 25, 2009, from see http://greens.org.au/node/2169.
- 6.Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) (2009) Innovation and Commercial Development. Retrieved June 21, 2009, from http://www.aibn.uq.edu.au/index.html?page=45761.
- 7.Australian Office of Nanotechnology (AON) (2008a) National Nanotechnology Strategy (NNS) Annual Report 2007-08. (Canberra: Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.)Google Scholar
- 8.Australian Office of Nanotechnology (AON) (2008b) Social Inclusion and Engagement Workshop Report, December 2008 prepared by Mirella di Genua, Straight Talk, Haberfield, Australia.Google Scholar
- 9.Australian Office of Nanotechnology (AON) (2009) Public Awareness and Engagement, Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research. Retrieved May 2, 2009, from http://www.innovation.gov.au/Industry/Nanotechnology/Pages/PublicAwarenessandEngagement.aspx.
- 10.Australian Research Council (ARC) (2009) Australian Research Council Nanotechnology Network. Retrieved June 22, 2009, from http://www.ausnano.net/index.php?page=home.
- 11.Australian Research Council (ARC) (2007-08) Australian Research Council Annual Report 2007-08. (Canberra: Australian Government.)Google Scholar
- 16.CSIRO Future Manufacturing Flagship (2009) Retrieved June 23, 2009, from http://www.csiro.au/org/Future-Manufacturing-Flagship-Overview.html.
- 17.ETC Group (2004) Down on the Farm. The impact of nano-scale technologies on food and agriculture. ETC Group, OttawaGoogle Scholar
- 18.ETC Group (2008) Organic pioneer says no to nano: ETC Group Welcomes World’s First ‘Nano-Free’ Standard. (Media Release) 14/01/08Google Scholar
- 19.European Parliament (2009) Novel Foods, MEPs Set New Rules’ Media Release 25/3/09, Retrieved April 20, 2009, from http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/067-52498-082-03-13-911-20090324IPR52497-23-03-2009-2009-false/default_en.htm.
- 20.Friends of the Earth Australia (2008a) Australia’s First Nano ‘Dialogue’ Shuts Out Critics, is Industry Biased’, Media ReleaseGoogle Scholar
- 21.Friends of the Earth Australia (2008b) Nano-Food VS Real Food, (forum flier)Google Scholar
- 22.Goldsmith C (2008) Is the nanotech boom at risk? National Safety 79(11):32–37Google Scholar
- 23.Grove-White R, Macnaghten P, Wynne B (2000) Wising up. the public and new technologies. Lancaster University, United KingdomGoogle Scholar
- 24.Hart P et al (2007) Awareness of and attitude toward nanotechnology and federal regulatory agencies: a report of findings based on a national survey amongst adults. Conducted on behalf of project on emerging technologies. The Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
- 25.International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) (2008) UK Royal Commission Warns of Lethal Impact of Unregulated Nanotech Products (Media Release), Retrieved May 6, 2009, from http://www.iuf.org/cgi-bin/dbman/db.cgi?db=default&uid=default&ID=5505&view_records=1&ww=1&en=1.
- 26.Irwin A (2006) The politics of talk: Coming to terms with the ‘new’ scientific governance. Social Studies of Science 36(2): 299–320Google Scholar
- 31.Ludlow K, Bowman D, Hodge G (2007) A review of possible impacts of nanotechnology on Australia’s regulatory framework, final report to the Australian government. Melbourne: Monash Regulatory Studies Centre, Faculty of Law, Monash University.Google Scholar
- 32.Lyons K (2008) Nanotech food and farming and impacts for organics. Australian Certified Organics Winter 30–31.Google Scholar
- 33.Lyons K, Scrinis G (2009) The nanotechnology treadmill and the future of food and agriculture. In: Gould K, Torres B (ds) Nanotechnology, Social Change and the Environment. Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
- 34.MARS (2008) Australian community attitudes held about nanotechnology: Trends 2005–2008, presented to the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Market Attitude Research Services Pty Ltd.Google Scholar
- 36.Maynard A (2006) Nanotechnology: a research strategy for addressing risk. Woodrow Wilson Project on Emerging Technologies, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
- 37.Miller G, Senjen R (2008) Out of the laboratory and onto our plates. Nanotechnology in food and agriculture. Friends of the Earth Australia, Europe and USA, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
- 38.Murray H (2008) Safety concerns over high-tech sunscreens, Retrieved April 21, 2009, from http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2008/s2449409.htm.
- 39.National Toxics Network (2009) What is community engagement? Viewed 20 April 2009, http://ntn.org.au/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=46.
- 40.Pelley J, Saner M (2009) International Approaches to the Regulatory Governance of Nanotechnology, Carleton University, Public Policy and Administration.Google Scholar
- 41.Pidgeon N, Rogers-Hayden T (2005) GM nation and nanotechnology: what processes worked? Science and Public Affairs June:14–15.Google Scholar
- 45.Queensland Nanodialogues (2008) Reference group: Terms of reference. Brisbane: Queensland Department of Tourism, Regional Development and Industry.Google Scholar
- 47.Rogers-Hayden T, Pidgeon N (2006) Reflecting upon the UK’s citizens’ jury on nanotechnologies: NanoJury UK. Nanotechnology Law and Business 3(2):167–178Google Scholar
- 48.Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering (RS/RAE) (2004) Nanoscience and nanotechnologies: opportunities and uncertainties. Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering, LondonGoogle Scholar
- 49.Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP) (2008) Novel materials in the environment: the case of nanotechnology. RCEP, LondonGoogle Scholar
- 50.Salleh A (2008) Nanotech regulation under the spotlight, Retrieved Feb 12, 2009, from http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/07/12/2301936.htm.
- 51.Salleh A (2009) Call for Control of nano-silver use ABC Science News, Retrieved June 22, 2009, from http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2009/06/12/2594441.htm.
- 52.Scrinis G, Lyons K (2007) The emerging nano-corporate paradigm: nanotechnology and the transformation of nature, food and agri-food systems. International Journal for the Sociology of Food and Agriculture 15(2):22–44Google Scholar
- 53.Scrinis G, Lyons K (2009) Nanotechnologies and the Agri-Food Sector. In: Lawrence G, Lyons K, Wallington T (eds) Food security, nutrition and sustainability: new challenges, future options. Earthscan, LondonGoogle Scholar
- 54.Senjen R (2009) Dialogues around nanotechnology disconnected from any decision-making processes are pointless. Friends of the Earth Australia. Retrieved May 6, 2009, from http://nano.foe.org.au/node/283.
- 55.Senjen R, Illuminato I (2009) Nano and biocidal silver. Extreme germ killers present a growing threat to public health. Friends of the Earth Australia and Friends of the Earth United States.Google Scholar
- 57.Stilgoe J (2007) Nanodialogues. Experiments in public engagement in science. Demos, LondonGoogle Scholar
- 59.The Age (14/4/2009) ‘Unions call for action to oversee nanotechnology’, Dan Harrison.Google Scholar