Risk, responsibility, rights, regulation and representation in the value chain of nano-products

This chapter reports on a research project which addresses one key question and a number of sub-questions. The key question is, what are the salient dimensions of the commercialisation and governance of nano-enabled products, covering regulation, risks, responsibilities, consumer rights, and representations to the consumer? The sub-question, and the particular focus of this paper is, how are nano-enabled products destined for consumer markets labelled and marketed? Within this more specifically, how do producers perceive and strategically target consumers, and communicate with them (or not) about the nano-component of their products? Then, does the way that consumers are conceived of and understood by different actors along the value chain change in terms of how the product is marketed? Finally, what are the ethical, governance and regulatory implications of the answers to these questions? The chapter builds on an ongoing collaborative project between SIFO (Norway's National Institute for Consumer Research) and the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research at Manchester Business School, UK. The work is a comparison of ethical aspects in the marketing of nanoproducts in Norway and the UK. This chapter provides preliminary findings and some reflections based on empirical material; an analysis of web-based and other communications, interviews along the value chain, i.e. with producers, importers , retailers and other 'intermediaries'; and eight group discussions across the two countries focussing on cosmetics and textiles. © 2009 The authors and IOS Press. All rights reserved.