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Title: Responsibility, regulation and the construction of markets of nanotechnologies in food and food packaging : the cases of Canada and India
Author: Bukht, Rumana
ISNI:       0000 0004 6351 4789
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2016
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Scientific research, technological development, and commercialisation are processes through which new technologies continually emerge and enter markets. Nanotechnology is an example of an emergent technology (or rather a suite of technologies) which promises to open up a universe of possibilities for the development of new products and processes. Advocates of the technology argue that nanotechnology has the potential to spur economic development while at the same time offering partial solutions to many of the grand challenges of our times such as alleviating hunger, providing new energy sources, reducing climate change, curing diseases, etc. However, alongside these optimistic views, there are also fears and apprehensions concerning the safe and ethical development of nanotechnologies, including the need to address potential negative impacts on the natural environment and human health and safety. The food and food packaging area has shown itself to be a particularly sensitive sector in this respect where the potential for nanoparticles to enter the human body has enhanced the sensitivity of the industry to public concern. The past has shown that any changes or modifications made to food have resulted in public backlash (e.g. GM foods). Due to this some parts of the food and packaging industry remain cautious about making transparent their use of nanotechnologies in their products and processes. However, simultaneously pressure is mounting from regulatory agencies, and from some activists, to pursue the safe and 'responsible' development of nanotechnologies (whatever that may be) as an ethical obligation. The use of nanotechnologies in food and food packaging has become increasingly complex because of its introduction at various points in the food chain, giving rise to debates as to "who is responsible". As a contribution to the debate on what constitutes the 'responsible' governance of new/emergent technologies, this thesis investigates the governance of nanotechnologies and the idea of 'responsibility' and 'responsible innovation' through the lens of perspectives of different actors within the nanotech food chain. A qualitative research methodology was used where semi-structured interviews were conducted with a heterogeneous group of actors with a particular focus on the food and food packaging sectors. Research in comparative national settings (Canada and India) was conducted on the grounds that regulation of nanotechnologies differs significantly across OECD and non-OECD countries, and where the global debate on nanotechnologies is organised and dominated by OECD countries. Findings from this thesis showed that the set of critical elements, such as health and safety, that are put forward by such OECD countries like Canada for the 'responsible' development of nanotechnologies are not the same as that found in India and are seen to differ. In India, meeting the grand challenges of society such as food security, clean drinking water and alleviating poverty take precedent over other elements, where science, technology (such as nanotechnologies) and innovation are harnessed by entrepreneurs, and small and large firms to solve these national problems. However, while I began the study with the intention of comparing two national territories with different regulatory settings, the study also found a case of collaborative Canada-India transnational research network where 'responsibility' is influenced through certain funding criteria set by the more dominant partner, Canada. This suggests the return of public intervention by dominant OECD countries in pro-actively shaping R&D processes that are influencing the 'responsible' development of nano-products in such emerging markets, where there is a potential for future trade associations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: responsible research and innovation ; agriculture ; nanofood ; food packaging ; food ; markets ; notions of responsibility ; India ; Canada ; responsible innovation ; responsibility ; regulation ; governance ; nanotechnology