January 10, 2010
The secretive attitude of food companies towards nanotechnology research risks starting a consumer backlash against products that could improve health and reduce waste, a parliamentary inquiry has found.
[efoods]Nanomaterials that are 800 times finer than a human hair have the potential to deliver foods that are very low in fat and salt and packaging that changes colour when food is spoiled because of the strange properties of molecules at such a small scale. Their development, however, has also raised safety concerns because their effects on humans are poorly understood.
These fears have inspired a culture of secrecy about nanotechnology in the food industry because it is worried about a repeat of the GM crop safety scare, according to a report from the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee. This lack of transparency could encourage exactly the sort of mistrust that companies hope to avoid.
The committee also found significant gaps in scientific understanding of the toxicology of nanomaterials, which need to be addressed urgently with new research so that they can be regulated effectively.
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