Nanologue: Europe-wide dialogue on social, ethical and legal impacts of nanotechnology
Nanologue (2005-2006) brought together researchers, businesses and civil society representatives from across Europe to support the dialogue on the societal opportunities and risks of nanotechnologies.
The project comprised three main steps:
1. A mapping study on recent developments regarding selected nanotechnology applications to lay a common ground for the subsequent discussions.
2. Moderated dialogue sessions allowing for an inclusive and neutral platform for information sharing and discussion. Interviews with experts were used to validate the findings and opinions.
3. Future scenarios based on the insights from the research, workshops and interviews to provide tools to explore some of the potential implications of nanotechnologies.
The mapping study identified more than 100 nanotechnology-related publications, out of which 15 have been analysed in more detail. The objective was to identify specific nanotechnology applications and a core set of relevant ethical, legal and societal aspects (ELSA). The results served as the basis for analysis of the selected applications and their relationship to ELSA in the Nanologue Background Paper.
The second phase aimed at gathering the opinions of civil society representatives and researchers on the benefits and risks of nanotechnologies. Drawing on interviews and workshops, the project summarised opinions on ethical, legal and social impacts of nanotechnology applications in medical diagnosis, food packaging, and energy supply and storage.
The Nanologue scenarios present three different possible future developments of nanotechnologies in Europe. They aim at gaining a deeper understanding of the potential benefits and risks of nanotechnology applications, showing plausible futures and rationalising the diversity of opinions presented during interviews and stakeholder workshops. The scenarios are explicitly not predictive, but should be used as a qualitative planning and communication tool. The scenarios were published in We need to talk: the future of nanotechnology (pdf).
Country: Germany, Switzerland, United Kingdom
Coordinator: The Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, Germany, www.wupperinst.org
Target groups: general public, industry, policy makers, researchers
Topic: Applied sciences, Energy, Food science, Medical sciences, Nanotechnology
Start year: 2005
End year: 2006
Contact person: Volker Türk, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, Germany, volker.tuerk (at) wupperinst.org
The insights gained throughout the project have also been used for the design of the NanoMeter – an Internet-based tool to assess societal implications of new nanotechnology products. Using NanoMeter, researchers and product developers can better assess the societal implications of their nano-applications prior to their market release.
The NanoMeter presents the key findings of the project in relation to a limited number of guiding questions that help foresee potential societal impacts of new nanotechnology-based applications already during the proposal or research and development phase. The NanoMeter focuses on topics critical to consumer and public acceptance.
The project also produced texts introducing nanotechnologies and explaining their basic characteristics. The material consists of two parts: the first part ,"What are nanotechnologies?", focuses on the science underlying nanotechnologies, the second one , "Why talk about nanotechnologies?", highlights the implication of nanotechnologies in society and the opportunities and threats posed by nanotechnologies: