The FDA allows manufacturers to add potentially toxic nanomaterials to any food without notifying anyone, or even putting it on the label, even organic food. Action Alert!
This outrageous state of affairs was highlighted in a February 2010 report by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), which found that the FDA has completely dropped the ball in ensuring the safety of additives to the food supply.
But first, a bit of history. The GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) designation was created in 1958 to exempt common foods from needing approval as a food additive. Foods that have been eaten for millennia, such as salt, nutmeg, and vinegar, were grandfathered in and considered safe. From the beginning, manufacturers were allowed to decide for themselves whether an ingredient was GRAS, without the FDA being involved.
In 1997 the FDA announced a voluntary notification system. Food manufacturers were now asked (but not required) to inform FDA of any new food additives that they (the manufacturer) had determined to be GRAS. However, the FDA never issued the rules governing notification in their final form. Sixteen years later, they are still pending.
Over the next fifteen years, 451 such GRAS notifications were made by manufacturers.
A new report in JAMA Internal Medicine revealed that 100% of those GRAS determinations were made by someone employed either directly or indirectly by the maker of the food in question.
“The companies hire a consulting firm to get experts for them, and the experts write a letter to FDA saying this additive should be considered GRAS,” says Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University who wrote a commentary to accompany the JAMA report. “There are whole companies that are in the business of recruiting scientists to sign off on these things.”
Even more alarming is that only a small percentage of all the new ingredients determined by their manufacturer to be GRAS are even reported to the FDA. Thomas Neltner, lead author of the JAMA study and director of the food additives project at the Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington, DC, believes that the FDA receives notification of only one out of every seven new additives. “That number could also be a lot higher. We really don’t know,” said Neltner.
There are more than 4,300 food ingredients on the GRAS list.
In 2010, motivated in part by the rapid introduction of nanomaterials into the food supply, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. Rosa De Lauro (D-CT) commissioned a GAO report to scrutinize the FDA’s limited oversight of the GRAS rules. They set out to determine whether FDA is ensuring the safety of both new and existing GRAS ingredients, and whether FDA is adequately protecting the food supply from nanomaterials. The FDA struck out on all points, with the GAO concluding:
FDA’s oversight process does not help ensure the safety of all new GRAS determinations, [does] not systematically ensur[e] the continued safety of current GRAS substances, [and] allows engineered nanomaterials to enter the food supply as GRAS substances without FDA’s knowledge….FDA has no way of knowing the full extent to which engineered nanomaterials have entered the U.S. food supply as part of GRAS substances. In contrast to FDA’s approach, all food ingredients that incorporate engineered nanomaterials must be submitted to regulators in Canada and the European Union before they can be marketed.
“Engineered nanomaterials” means deliberately created, as compared to nanomaterials that occur naturally or are created incidentally, such as by milling flour.
The GAO issued six recommendations to the FDA on February 3, 2010:
- Assess the continued safety of GRAS substances.
- Issue a final rule that governs the voluntary GRAS notification program.
- Monitor the appropriateness of companies’ GRAS determinations.
- Minimize the potential for conflicts of interest in companies’ GRAS determinations.
- Require any company that conducts a GRAS determination to provide FDA with basic information about this determination, such as the substance’s identity and intended uses, and to incorporate such information into relevant agency databases and its public website.
- Ensure the safety of engineered nanomaterials that companies currently market as GRAS substances without the agency’s knowledge, including taking steps such as issuing guidance recommended by the agency’s nanotechnology taskforce, developing an agency definition of engineered nanomaterials, and requiring companies to inform FDA if their GRAS determinations involve engineered nanomaterials.
To date, none of these six sensible recommendations have been implemented. In 2012 FDA opened comment on a draft guidance assessing the effects of nanotechnology, but it has yet to be issued.
Shockingly, there is no prohibition against nanomaterials in organic products. The National Organics Standards Board (NOSB) recommended that nanotechnology be banned in organics and created recommended threshold levels. While the National Organic Program (NOP) adopted the recommendation in 2010, they appear to be stalling and have not yet implemented formal regulations and guidance.
Those who argue against a ban on nanoscale materials in organic food say that it would be a form of discrimination that is purely “size-driven.” However, these extremely small sizes—a nanometer is one billionth of a meter—dramatically change the properties of a substance that is engineered to be that tiny.
How small is a nanometer? A human hair is approximately 100,000 nanometers wide. Shrinking a marble to a nanometer in diameter would be the equivalent of shrinking the Earth to a single meter in diameter. A nanometer is the length your fingernails grow in one second.
As we reported in 2012, engineered nanoparticles:
- are more reactive and potentially more toxic;
- are often less stable;
- have the potential to pass the blood-brain barrier and the placental barrier;
- can migrate to different tissues and organs; and
- can increase the bioavailability of other chemicals, such as toxins.
Clearly these minute laboratory creations have no place in organic food! There is room for vast improvement of the entire GRAS system, which allows manufacturers to decide which new food additives are safe, and which are not.
We’re working first on getting nanomaterials banned from organic foods. Action Alert! Please tell USDA to prohibit these dangerous, largely unstudied particles from food that is certified organic.
23 thoughts on “Nanoparticles Don’t Belong in Organic Foods!”
FDA’s oversight process does not help ensure the safety of all new GRAS determinations, [does] not systematically ensure the continued safety of current GRAS substances, and allows engineered nanomaterials to enter the food supply as GRAS substances without FDA’s knowledge….FDA has no way of knowing the full extent to which engineered nanomaterials have entered the U.S. food supply as part of GRAS substances. In contrast to FDA’s approach, all food ingredients that incorporate engineered nanomaterials must be submitted to regulators in Canada and the European Union before they can be marketed.
“Engineered nanomaterials” means deliberately created, as compared to nanomaterials that occur naturally or are created incidentally, such as by milling flour.
We need to fix this problem….thank you
Stop allowing the tampering of our food supply immediately. Please turn away lobbiests and all people with special interests who attempt to influence your decisions, including your own thinking that it is acceptable for food to be contaminated.
Thank you for your prompt action and dedication to the American people.
Stop messing with our food!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wait, wait, wait – GRAS is supposed to exempt common foods normally eaten forever.
I don’t think engineered foods fall under that definition, do you?
Its just like everything else they do. They are not out to protect the people. They are only concerned with protecting big company profits.
Please don’t allow nano-particles in organic food…it’s not organic anymore if you do.
I can not believe that Nano Particles are now being added to our food, as additives and the FDA has not let us know that they are there. Nano particles can go deep into our cells and potentially cause harm beyond we have yet to understand. Dan Solloway
Unfortunately, the FDA is in bed with big Pharma ~ that is where the money is. The organic industry is growing at a spectacular rate but it isn’t the big, big money of the drugs that kill thousands of people every year…through their lies and deception. I just lost a friend that was killed compliments of devastating drugs, so I’m not talking out of context I’ve seen this disgusting scenario with my own eyes. I hope and believe that our Organic certified farms and farmers are ethically and morally doing what they do for the right reason and will not allow any GRAS included in their produce that is not along their knowledge of right from wrong. We have so many toxins that we are confronted with on a daily basis that it is going to take all of us that are educated in this area to do what we can to protect our Organic industry and our survival. I either buy organic or make my own organic products (eg., mayo, salad dressings, etc.) Even my grandchildren read the labels. Organic farmers, we have your back.
The orders from the FDA are trying to keep as many people as sick as possible. This is what I see happening & this has been going on for (Many years) & it’s getting worse all the time.
The real reason behind all of the FDA’s actions are (Helping out the Drug Corporations) make Billions in profits.
Every time I read something about the FDA I feel so disheartened. The very people who’s job it is to protect the American public from hurt, always seem to be on the wrong side of issues that could or should save Americans lives. I think we should let the big pharmacies companies, the chemical companies and AMA should pay the salaries of everyone working at the FDA. Between them, they seem to own the FDA. I would just once like to pick up a news paper with the headlines “FDA does it’s job, protects the people.” Why don’t we just hirer the people at Consumers Report to do the FDA’s job. At least we would monthly report in a nice magazine form.
I regularly read and post your articles and believe wholeheartedly in your mission. Therefore I must comment on this request for action and article. You missed THE essential point. What are (at least some of) the nanoscale materials being added to our food supply, particularly in our organic selections. Please do not assume everyone knows what you are talking about or is following every issue.
Thank you for all you do.
Titanium Dioxide which is listed as a natural whitener, but has been engineered is found in vitamins, supplements, tooth paste, and gums and candy. Check the label. Anything pasty white may have it.
You are suppose to be working for us. Protecting us from nasty tricks from the food processors and you are not doing that. You are in their pockets looking out for their bottom line and not our health and well being. I don’t want any thing put in my foods and I don’t want Geneticly Modified foods, I don’t want waters and salt shot into my meat, I don’t want tons of sugar in every thing. I want good old fashion food.
I want to die of old age and not prematurely due to all the crap you allow food processor to dump in our food so they can make more money. We have to pay for that not only with our hard earned dollars but with our lives.
Get your hands out of their pockets and start serving and protecting us like you are suppose to!
Oh yeah, I want full disclosure on my food labels all the way down to the smallest particle. What ever it is I want to know its there and I want to know how much of it is there. I want to know what I am putting in my body.
Organic is supposed to indicate that it is as Mother Nature intended, not the greedy corporations intentions. Keep your toxic non-organic additives out of our organic food. Thank you.
We should also be trying to have fetal tissue that is used as a flavor enhancement in soft drinks banned. Corporations have gone money mad. Anything for a buck. God help us.
Just to clarify, the embryonic cells are not used as flavor enhancers in foods or beverages. They are used to model the human flavor receptors rather than doing taste tests. This is somewhat like computer modeling. One may very well have an objection to using this line of cells (derived from an aborted fetus in the early 70s in the Netherlands) but it is not accurate to say these cells are being used in the food supply as flavor enhancers.
Recently I saw some high definition microscopic photos of Chicken McNuggets on NaturalNews. While the chicken portion looked like glue, there were individual fibers in the chicken glue that were to say the least, NOT hairs, but rather looked like what I would call – strange – at the least. I know what they do to the chicken “meat” to make McNuggets – but, is this an additive, or is it something that is already in the chicken? Mothers – don’t feed your kids Chicken Nuggets – YUK. No wonder they are “cheap”.
Now there is some discussion about nanoparticles in organic food? It shouldn’t be in regular food.
My guess is that it is already in the rest of the “manufactured” food – or at least some of it. Good grief !!
Interesting how the FDA freely allows the big food manufacturers to GRAS at will, yet puts up every road block to GRAS supplements. Nanotechnology in food and pharmaceuticals is extremely dangerous, as with GM technology, it has been rushed through under the carpet without proper independent long term testing.
I disagree with the suggested course of action. It will likely give the FDA additional power and authority to regulate natural substances by allowing them to define “nanoparticles” broadly rather than narrowly. Just so that you know, nanoparticles include 1) proteins, 2) enzymes, 3) peptides (e.g., glutathione) and amino acids (about 1 nm in size), 4) phytochemicals, 5) mineral chelates, 6) mucopolysaccharides (e.g., aloe extracts), and 7) clays (bentonites, kaolins, montmorillonites, zeolites), 8) activated charcoal, 9) all colloidal products, and most of the substances and substructures of food. To give rulemaking authority to the FDA without restricting them to non-food and non-natural nanoparticles is asking for their many conflicts of interest to plague us to an even greater degree. Natural nanoparticles are out birthright. Our entire bodies are colloidal suspensions of nanoparticles. Do not surrender them to the machinations of the FDA.
IMO anything this small should not be ingested by ANYONE. Certainly this very small is going to quickly find its way into your blood stream.
What we have here folks is an oral “vaccination”. Which IMO is the whole purpose of putting this crap in our food.
God does it ever end?
One cannot help but suspect that the FDA/USDA are part of some kind of conspiracy to kill us all. You know, population control. The greeds have their answer to global warming. Genocide us to death with their poisons, and make a bundle while they’re at it. Just wondering! Do the FDA and USDA do anything to improve our health? No, nada, nothing. We’re better off without them considering the damage they continue to do. A total waste of hard-earned taxpayer money.
Nearly all tabletted supplements have contained nanoparticles for several decades. When you see “silicon dioxide” as an ingredient, that is almost always fumed silica — nanoparticles of silicon dioxide used as a glidant (flow agent) to ease manufacturing of the product. It would be much more difficult to handle the powders used to make tablets without it.
Our life is a journey at earth and we want to spend it in a healthy way. I think just one step is required to love life. It matters for our health that what we eat and what things we use in our daily life. Natural organic foods are prerequisite for living a healthy life. As artificial ingredients are cheap ingredients, it’s beneficial for manufacturers to use them for making products. Most of the people in United States are suffering from cancer and overweight due to unhygienic and unhealthy food quality. Some people take care for calories only not for ingredients. Conventional foods contain lesser amount of nutrients and vitamins. We are surrounded by conventional foods whenever go to market. Choose organic foods that give energy and make creative to our kids.