Institutionalization of Safe by Design Vs. Scientists Responsibility

Proceedings of The 3rd International Conference on New Trends in Social Sciences

Year: 2022



Institutionalization of Safe by Design Vs. Scientists Responsibility

Suraud Marie-Gabrielle



Relying on several waves of field surveys, this paper shows how the French protests against nanotechnology led to a bifurcation in scientific research practices. In France, these protests rose rapidly after the launch of major scientific and technological programs. It took virulent forms that questioned the very legitimacy of academic research, whereas this had not been the case in the context of the anti-nuclear protest, which focused on power plants. Having to face these protests, academic research practices were pushed to evolve, with the characteristic of taking into account environmental and health risks in disciplines such as physics and chemistry, that were previously largely self-referential. Academic research has thus had to respond to the need to assess the risks associated with ‘nano’ products by progressively referring to the notion of ‘safe by design’, i.e. safety as soon as nanomaterials are designed. However, this consideration of the question of risks raises formidable problems. These problems may be cultural or institutional, due to the lack of an interdisciplinary tradition, or scientific, given the complexity of the obstacles to overcome in order to design safe nanomaterials. However, the need expressed by industry for risk assessment methods for nanomaterials appears to be a powerful lever for transforming academic practices.

keywords: Citizenship; Ecology; Nanotechnology; Research; Risks.