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German consumers discuss nanoproducts

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German consumers discuss nanoproducts

Mon, 30 Jun 2014
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From 3rd to 5th of June 2014 the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) conducted three focus group discussions with German consumers. The participants discussed about nanotechnology as well as nanoproducts and their labelling. The three groups consisted of 8 to 9 participants and were composed differently. One group consisted of eight women, one of 9 men and one of 4 women and 5 men.

All three groups discussed the same topics. At the beginning participants discussed what they have heard so far about nanotechnology and which experience they had, if any, with products which were based on the application of nanotechnology.

Subsequently a number of different products were presented to the participants. Some products openly advertised the use on nanotechnology while other did not. Participants discussed the perceived benefits of nanotechnology concerning the individual products and spoke also about whether, and if so, how product labelling of nanoproducts should look like. At the same time participants views about the EU labelling obligation for nanotechnology in cosmetics and food were discussed. 

The discussions of the three groups were recorded on video and are currently subjected to a qualitative content analysis. Here a few short first impressions should be delineated.

Overall the male and the mixed gender group showed a positive attitude towards nanotechnology and its applications in consumer products while in the female group a skeptical attitude dominated. In all groups an initially neutral to positive attitude was qualified as soon as information about possible health risks from nanoparticles was provided to the participants.

Concerning product labelling a majority called for distinct labelling for the sake of consumer’s free choice. A minority of participants were of the opinion that distinct labelling was not necessary. The minority argued that it was not clear why nanotechnology should be so different in comparison to other substance groups which are not distinctly labelled either. All groups did not understand that the EU labelling obligation for nanotechnology in cosmetics entered into force before the labelling obligation for nanotechnology in food which participants apprehended as more important.

All groups were surprised how many applications of nanotechnology in consumer products already exist and how many times one comes across nanotechnology in everyday life and that it is not science fiction anymore.

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About nanopinion

  • nanopinion es un proyecto financiado por la CE en el que participan 17 socios de 11 países con el objetivo de realizar un seguimiento de la opinión pública sobre qué esperamos de la innovación con nanotecnologías. El proyecto está dirigido a los ciudadanos, poniendo un énfasis especial en aquellos grupos a los que es difícil llegar, es decir, personas que no estan muy familiarizadas con las nanotecnologías y tampoco acostumbran a ofrecer su opinión sobre este campo de primera mano.
  • Diálogo: se facilita por Internet y en eventos de difusión en 30 países que presentan diferentes formatos de participación.
  • Para promover un debate social informado, también realizamos una intensa campaña de prensa y redes sociales y ofrecemos un repositorio con más de 150 recursos.
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