The approach of responsible research and innovation (RRI) has been proposed to support the introduction of technologies that touch upon socially sensitive issues. RRI is intended to help designers and manufacturers of new technologies identify and accommodate public concerns when developing a new technology by engaging with a wide range of relevant actors in an interactive, transparent process. However what this approach amounts to exactly remains elusive as of yet, i.e. it is unclear what its contribution to the societal embedding of new technologies should consists of exactly. The transition to a sustainable bio-economy that uses biomass as its main resource is a complicated trajectory involving many actors and touching upon societally sensitive issues such as the use of genetic modification. In this paper we pose the question in what way RRI can stimulate the development and diffusion of a sustainable bio-economy in The Netherlands and Europe. We claim that for the further development and diffusion of the bio-economy, trust among actors in the relevant value-chain is a prerequisite. RRI can play a pivotal part in the bio-economy by providing conditions for trustworthiness of actors and by enhancing trusting relationships. This can be achieved through instruments such as personal relationships, third person guarantors, institutions and the communication of values. From the application of RRI to the context of the bio-economy, lessons can be drawn for other socially intricate technological trajectories.
- Responsible research and innovation