Association de veille et d’information civique sur les enjeux des nanosciences et des nanotechnologies (Avicenn)

Identity card

Avicenn was created in 2010 as a result of the development of nanosciences and nanotechnologies (NST). It is a response to civil society’s call for independent, transversal, understandable and pluralistic information on nanosciences and nanotechnologies (NST). The association provides current news, dossiers, newsletters and information flows to increase understanding of the challenges and controversies associated with nanotechnologies. Avicenn carries out projects in all regions of France, and also participates in a number of national and European working groups to bring the ideas and concerns of civil society to the attention of decision-makers.

More than 15 organisations are associate members of Avicenn, and were given a deliberative voice in 2018. These include Acting for the environment, Citizen Sciences, Générations Futures, the French consumers’ association UFC Que Choisir, Réseau Environnement Santé (Health and the environment network), Centre Médical Interentreprises Europe, INERIS (French national institute for industrial environment and risks), ZeroWaste.

Avicenn focuses its efforts on several major fields: French and European legislation; wastes; agriculture; the food supply and water.

Avicenn also contributes to cooperative efforts between citizen watchdog groups (Inf’OGM, ApE, Générations Cobayes, etc.)

The association guides the action of public authorities, can argue for or against pending legislation, has re-energised NGOs in France and, through its dialogue with NGOs abroad, helps keep the international network watchful. These alerts and articles are diffused through French-speaking networks in Africa and Canada.

Avicenn recently signed an agreement with the AFB (Agence française pour la biodiversité - French Biodiversity Agency) for 2018, to provide information to scientists and actors in the field of water and prevent the risk of nanoparticle leakage into aquatic environments.

In addition to its own website, Avicenn funnels information to the website.


Avicenn’s objective is to:

  • set up citizen monitoring that is pluralistic and open to people in civil society concerned by the growth of NST

  • promote and strengthen the capacity of civil society and citizens to understand the social issues raised by NST (environment, health, work, civil liberties, etc.) and to participate in debate in an enlightened way wherever decisions on NST are made. Its action is based on monitoring events, diffusing information and high-priority support for civil society organisations involved in counter-lobbying efforts.

  • compile current scientific, regulatory and institutional information on nanos;

  • analyse and decode guidelines and policies being studied, and the positions and arguments of various actors, throughout the lifecycles of nano-objects and in the context of scientific uncertainties;

  • alert the public to the the impact of nanotechnologies on health and the environment, as well as ethical considerations

  • be a ‘resource point’ for civil society

  • strengthen civil society’s participation in decision-making in the nanotechnologies field

  • encourage all actors involved (administrations, elected officials, companies, unions, citizens’ associations and groups) to be collectively watchful.

Modes of action

  • expertise
  • training
  • advocacy, lobbying, influence strategy
  • legal and citizen watch, diffusion of information
  • development of teaching material

Thematic areas

  • research and technological innovation
  • information
  • responsibility
  • research and social innovation