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Risk and Beyond: EU Regulation of Nanotechnology

Lee, M; (2010) Risk and Beyond: EU Regulation of Nanotechnology. EUR LAW REV , 35 (6) 799 - 821.

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The regulation of risky technologies is not limited to questions amenable to technical risk assessment, but also engages a range of broader social and ethical concerns. The European Union has, apparently, fully embraced the notion that broader social and ethical concerns are a legitimate part of the regulatory process, and certain institutional developments (e.g. enhanced public participation, the consultation of experts in ethics) can be interpreted as an effort to bring these broader issues to the attention of decision-makers. However, this article argues that when we examine regulation closely, safety is generally the only value that competes with the presumed economic benefits of innovation. The broader social and ethical issues either disappear, or as with socio-economic analysis in chemicals regulation, are likely to be used to justify otherwise unacceptable levels of risk. In this article, I examine the regulation of nanotechnology in the European Union, particularly the regulation of nanomaterials as chemicals, food and cosmetics. I argue that the institutional innovations introduced to bring broader social and ethical issues into regulatory decision-making (including an explicitly political stage to decision-making, as well as public participation and ethical expertise) are likely to disappoint for as long as the regulatory framework is narrowly framed around risk.

Type: Article
Title: Risk and Beyond: EU Regulation of Nanotechnology
Keywords: Ethics, EU law, Nanotechnology, Regulation, Risk assessment, PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE, POLICY, SCIENCE, REACH
UCL classification: UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences
UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Laws
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1301700
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