Out of the laboratory and on to our plates: Nanotechnology in Food & Agriculture

March 2008

, by Les Amis de la Terre

Untested and potentially hazardous manufactured nanomaterials can be found in food, food packaging and other products on supermarket shelves in the European Union, according to a new report released today by Friends of the Earth Europe.

’Out of the laboratory and on to our plates: Nanotechnology in food and agriculture’ reveals that despite concerns about the toxicity risks of nanomaterials, consumers are unknowingly ingesting them because regulators are struggling to keep pace with their rapidly expanding use.

Nanotechnology - the manipulation of matter at the scale of atoms and molecules - is now used in the manufacture of products such as nutritional supplements, cling wrap and containers, antibacterial kitchenware, processed meats, chocolate drinks, baby food and chemicals used in agriculture. At least 104 food and agricultural products containing manufactured nanomaterials, or produced using nanotechnology, are currently on sale worldwide. Furthermore, industry analysts also estimate that there are several hundred nano food products on the international market.

Friends of the Earth’s investigation reveals that in the EU, and elsewhere in the world, laws are ill-equipped to deal with the unique properties of nanomaterials.