Nanotechnology is regarded as a key technology of the 21st century, and national funding programs command substantial support. However, recent experience with nuclear power and biotechnology has shown that modern technologies are not necessarily very popular. Rather, they can give rise to controversies over negative effects on health and the environment. Therefore, it is important to look the societal embedding, and the potential to trigger controversies, of new key technologies at an early point in time. In several countries, investigations into aspects of risk, societal and ethical issues have been conducted; the European Commission, too, explicitly called for "the incorporation of the societal dimension". So far, Austria has seen few such efforts; this short project, as a first step, aimed at summarising the European discussion on risk and the societal aspects of nanotechnology.
This study has been commissioned by BMVIT. Practically at the same time, the study NanoGesund – Gesundheitsrisiken der Nanotechnologie [health risks of nano technology], financed by BMWA and Zukunftsfonds Steiermark, has been carried out by NANONET Styria under the direction of Dr. Sinner (Joanneum Research). For both projects, NanoGesund and our project, common recommendations have been drafted. Some of the recommendations were put into practice in a new ITA project from autumn 2007 onwards.
01/2006 - 05/2006