Citizenīs attitudes towards nanotechnology
In progress from 01-03-2004 to 01-09-2004
Project manager: Ulla Holm Vincentsen
Ethics, Nanotechnology, Public participation, Risk, Sustainability
The aim of the project was to get a provisional idea of Danish citizens’ attitudes towards nanotechnologies at a very early stage of the development of the technologies.
Read more on the project homepage
A survey took place on June 7th 2004, involving 29 invited citizens from the Copenhagen area. The survey was implemented as a series of group interviews, succeeded by the completion of a questionnaire.
The survey showed that it is difficult to relate unambiguously to nanotechnologies as it holds numerous scopes of applications as well as a variety of complex problems. Still, the survey showed a group of citizens generally favourably disposed towards nanotechnologies. Everybody, however, agreed that in taking the lead within the development of nanotechnology, it is very important that Denmark demonstrates a sound and critical approach to the technologies and initiate research into the risks and ethics involved.
A great concern from the citizens were whether nanotechnology would be applied to “right” purposes, being defined as beneficial to a wider public, and whether people and the environment would be taken adequately into consideration. The citizens were in favour of nanotechnologies which help to fight pollution, prevent climatic change, develop new energy sources, improve the condition of developing countries, improve healthcare and provide more knowledge about the world in general. The objective of a longer life span and of improved consumer durables was met with opposition.
Finally, many citizens worried about leaving the development of nanotechnologies to the private sector as the private sector according to the citizens is more concerned about financial profit that of what is beneficial to society. In order to prevent damage to human beings and the environment, the citizens recommended careful control and regulation of the development of nanotechnology, nationally as well as internationally.