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Attitudes towards nanomaterials and nanotechnology among Swedish expert stakeholders: Risk, benefit and regulation

Authors Simon Larsson
Åsa Boholm
Magnus Jansson
Publisher Gothenburg Research Institute, School of Business, Economics and Law, Gothenburg University
Place of publication Gothenburg
Publication year 2017
Published at Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI)
School of Global Studies
Language en
Keywords nanomaterials; benefit; risk; innovation; regulation
Subject categories Social Anthropology


The aim of this study is to investigate attitudes towards nanomaterials and nanotechnology among Swedish expert stakeholders. The study explores the views of these experts on a number of topics in connection to nanotechnology innovation with a focus on perceived risk, perceived benefits, risk regulation, and risk management. In January 2017, we distributed a web-based questionnaire to 237 individual experts at government agencies, business corporations, and other relevant organisations. The experts had a self-rated interest in, or connection to, nanomaterials and nanotechnology in their work at their organisation. This study contributes to a multidisciplinary research field addressing questions about innovation and foresight, risk perception, and regulation of nanomaterials and nanotechnology in the public domain. This study makes several claims. 1. The topic of nanomaterials and nanotechnology engages a broad range of Swedish stakeholders in many different ways, including, but not limited to, research and research funding, risk assessment, product development, as well as regulation and legislation. 2. Experts generally emphasize the benefits of nanotechnology and nanomaterials, but perceived benefit and perceived risk varies with educational background and organizational affiliation. 3. How experts assess risk and benefit varies depending on area of application (for example medicine, cosmetics, coatings, electronics, agriculture and food). 4. Experts are generally supportive of further regulation of nanomaterials and nanotechnology. They are relatively negative to taxation and self-regulation as regulatory measures and relatively positive to selective prohibition. There is also disagreement over appropriate regulatory measures among respondents. 5. High perceived risk correlates with a more positive attitude to regulation, and high perceived benefit correlates with lower support for regulation. 6. A common and shared belief is that regulation should be based on science, and that public involvement is undesirable.

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