Article ID: CBB546323901

Cosmopolitics of a Regulatory Fit: The Case of Nanocellulose (2019)


Nanocellulose is an organic material envisioned to have the capacity to replace potentially harmful, non-renewable materials such as plastics. Before the material can be utilized commercially within the EU, its safety needs to be officially proven. This is envisioned to happen through the REACH chemicals regulation that controls the market entry of new substances. The regulation proposes concepts to support regulatory discretion and test methods to be used in risk assessments. While so doing, REACH puts forward assumptions pertaining to the critical qualities of innovations. However, when regulation is used to appraise radically new innovations, the assumptions need to be re-evaluated. Yet, analysis of expert accounts suggests that nanocellulose cannot be easily fit into the categorizations and analytical engagements that REACH proposes. For the purposes of a regulatory adoption, the problems are transformed into epistemological issues to be resolved through the incremental closing of knowledge gaps. Some of the key qualities of the material seem not to gain recognition in the regulatory realm that is in the making. At worst, the official strategy may create conditions for risks which the regulation is supposed to eradicate while, at the same time, hindering the development of plastic-substituting solutions.

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Authors & Contributors
Lievevrouw, Elisa
Alexander Bogner
Cool, Alison
Hemphill, Thomas A.
Evelyn Ruppert
Franco Sotte
Social Studies of Science
Science as Culture
Science, Technology, and Human Values
Medicina Historica
Public Understanding of Science
Physis: Rivista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza
Arkiv Academic Press
Firenze University Press
Science and politics
Legislative and administrative regulations
Science and technology studies (STS)
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Technology and State
Time Periods
21st century
20th century, late
20th century
Early modern
20th century, early
European Union
Madrid (Spain)
Kansas (U.S.)
United States
Google (firm)
European Spallation Source (ESS)
Apple (firm)

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