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Edited by Graeme A. Hodge, Diana M. Bowman and Andrew D. Maynard
Chapter 22: Risk Governance in the Field of Nanotechnologies: Core Challenges of an Integrative Approach
Ortwin Renn and Antje Grobe 22.1 INTRODUCTION On the way towards sustainable and safe innovations in the field of nanotechnologies, society is faced with severe challenges posed by increased complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity that will accompany the diffusion of these new technologies onto the market. These typical side effects of today’s innovation processes manifest themselves, for example, in the large number and variety of applications in different industrial sectors with its required safety data – documented case-by-case on a set of different criteria for the risk assessment and risk management procedures (Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR), 2009; National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), 2009; Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 2009). This adds complexity to the issue. Other problems become visible in the still unresolved questions of a shared and pragmatic definition of nanotechnologies and nanomaterials among the various stakeholders and the related problems of how to apply specific risk assessment and risk management requirements without narrow thresholds (European Parliament, 2009a, 2009b). This increases the degree of uncertainty with respect to the potential impacts of nanotechnology applications. Safety data and the application of risk assessment are both closely connected to the different scientific heuristics which influence the process of how risk-related information is generated and determine the process of judgement – sometimes even leading to contradictory results based upon the same information. This process produces ambiguity as a function of controversial judgements about the same phenomena. These three aspects, complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity, lie...
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