Consumer conference on the perception of nanotechnology
in the fields of food, cosmetics and consumer goods
Period: April 2006 - January 2007
Supported by: Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), Berlin
Cooperation Partners: Independent Institute for Environmental Concerns (UfU) e.V., Berlin (project management)
Involved IÖW employees:
(Project leader IÖW), Dr. Gerd Scholl
Nanotechnology is regarded as a key technology of the 21st century. The hopes and expectations placed in it as a motor for innovations are enormous.
This project is being conducted on behalf of the Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung (BfR) and, for the first time, deals with the opportunities and risks of nanotechnological applications from a consumer's perspective. In the context of health-related consumer protection, it is particularly a question of risk assessment in the fields of food, cosmetics and essential consumer goods
Within the framework of a consumer conference, a group consisting of 18 consumers from Berlin and Brandenburg has dealed with the topic of nanotechnology in a structured process lasting several weeks: during two internal preparatory weekends, the group was introduced to the topic, main points were discussed and questions were formulated and answered by different experts. During the public final conference, the invited experts then expressed their views on the topic. Subsequently the group has completed its assessment on the opportunities and risks of this technology from their consumer point of view and handed it over to important actors in the fields of consumer protection, politics, science and industry.
Using this process, the consumer conference is methodically oriented towards the so-called consensus or citizens' conferences, which have been conducted so far at international and national level.
The consumer conference will focus not only on the perception of the risks of nanotechnology by consumers, but also on the demands by consumers for "sustainable" nanotechnologies. The main priority will be:
- to set out the fields of use of nanotechnology in the areas of food, cosmetics and essential consumer goods, with their intended and (possibly) unintended effects,
- to establish risk and opportunity perceptions as well as recommended action by consumers, and to introduce these into the public discussion.
Topic: Environmental Policy and Governance, Innovation and Technology, Participation and Communication
Research field: Ecological Economics and Environmental Policy, Ecological Consumption