Nanotechnology: threat or promise?
A recent meeting of the Institute for Food Technologists included presentations on applications of nanotechnology to food. These, say food technologists, have the potential to improve the safety, quality, and shelf life of foods. They cite as examples anti-microbial coatings on food packaging materials and improved delivery systems for vitamin and flavor ingredients.
Nanotechnology deals with substances at the atomic and molecular levels, which means really, really small. One nanometer is 0.000,000,001 meters (10 to the minus 9, or one millionth of a millimeter).
Until now, I haven’t said anything about food nanotechnology because I really don’t know what to say about it. Is it safe? How would we know? Friends of the Earth says nanotechnology is the antithesis of organic agriculture and represents a new threat to our food supply. Even Food Technology thinks it should be disclosed on package labels.
The FDA says it already has the authority to regulate food nanotechnology. The industry says that overly strict regulations are impeding progress in this industry (sounds like the GMO arguments, no?).
What’s going on here? I’m having trouble getting a handle on this one.
If you know something about this, comments are most welcome.