Suraud, M. From “Safe by Design” to Scientific Changes: Unforeseen Effects of Controversy Surrounding Nanotechnology in France. Nanoethics13, 103–112 (2019).
Based on fieldwork, this article highlights the unexpected effects of controversies about nanotechnology in France. These controversies stem in particular from a strong challenge to the field by civil society protests and criticism concerning environmental and health risks. One reason for this challenge is the specific difficulties in assessing the toxicity and ecotoxicity of nanomaterials. Civil society organizations have pushed for strictly controlling or stopping academic, industrial, or even basic research. They were not successful in this regard but their activities prompted researchers to think about “safe by design” solutions and this led to new interdisciplinary cooperation. Furthermore, the uncertainty about the risks assessment resulted in a reconfiguration of the relationship between academic research and industrial companies. Researchers have become essential to the shaping of safe products. The risks of nanomaterials have thus been a driving force for new research and innovation practices.
Keywords: nanotechnology, nanomaterials, risks, safe by design, research, controversies