RECIPES: EU guide to risk assessment of new technologies published

How safe are new technologies and who’s to judge? When is precaution necessary, when is bold innovation needed? A team of researchers from the ITA looked at precaution in nanotechnologies for the EU project RECIPES. The EU project team has now published the final RECIPES Guidance for application of the precautionary principle in the EU.

A total of nine case studies were conducted and precautionary tools were developed. (Photo: RECIPES.eu)

Download the RECIPES Guidance for application of the precautionary principle in the EU here!

As part of the RECIPES team, a total of nine countries have analysed the regulation of the use of new technologies in areas such as genetic engineering, artificial intelligence or microplastics. André Gazsó, Anna Pavlicek and Daniela Fuchs from the Institute of Technology Assessment at the Austrian Academy of Sciences conducted a case study on the application of the precautionary principle to nanotechnologies. They consider diversity and practicality as essential for risk assessment: "Responsible innovation should promote technologies that protect people and the environment equally well. This requires experts from many different disciplines. That way, we can build a stable and safe assessment of risks."

"Even though nanomaterials are already used in cosmetics or in food packaging, we still don't know exactly what their actual consequences are. This uncertainty is exactly why timely risk management is needed," says Gazsó comparing the precautionary principle to a compass, as it opens up possibilities for sensibly managing the safe use of new technologies despite their high complexity. "At the ITA, we practice precaution, for example, in the NanoTrust initiative, which in Austria eventually gave rise to the Environment Ministry's Nano Action Plan”, he continues.

EU guide for politics and industry

The resulting guideline draws lessons from the various case studies and makes recommendations. The primary addressees are EU decision-makers and agencies, as well as institutions involved in risk assessment or governance of science, technology and innovation. The document also includes all policy briefs produced during the 3 ½-year life of RECIPES.

The RECIPES (REconciling sCience, Innovation and Precaution through the Engagement of Stakeholders) project, funded by the European Commission, was based on the idea that the responsible application of the precautionary principle and the consideration of innovation aspects are not necessarily in conflict. It aimed to reconcile innovation and precaution. The guideline is intended to ensure precaution while promoting innovation.