Pulse of Natural Health, May 25th
Further Update on our Story – Nanotechnology: New Threat to Organic Foods
Our May 18 article on nanotechnology and organic foods drew a number of comments from our readers. Here is one:
May 19, 2010 at 9:32 pm
“After reading this article, I have no facts on which to base an opinion. I am a huge fan of organic food, locally grown produce, and I also am familiar with nanotechnology. This article, however, has no substance in which to form any opinion. I am not a sheep. Therefore, this article will elicit no response either way from me. Please, everyone, ask more from your information sources.”
May 25, 2010
“Let’s neither wolves nor sheep be. Let’s indeed stick to facts, to logic, and to science.
First the logic. Organic means, well, organic, made by nature. Nanotechnology has to be the antithesis of organic farming methods. It’s an industrial process that manipulates food at its molecular and atomic levels. This logic prompted the UK, Australia, and Canada to ban the use of manufactured nanomaterials and of nanotechnology in organics.
Now some facts: The safety of this technology is simply unknown. The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, an independent research institute in Washington, DC, expressed concern at the lack of research on safety: “Neither industry nor government appears to be doing its homework. Products could end up in the market without a proper assessment of risk.”
AOL News recently published a three-part Special Report called “The Nanotech Gamble.” In it, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Andrew Schneider writes that many scientists believe the engineered particles could pose a giant risk to the environment and human life.
The nanomaterial most widely used in consumer products is nano-titanium dioxide. It’s an ingredient in a number of drugstore items rubbed onto bodies and faces and even put into mouths, among them cosmetics, sunblock, and toothpaste. A UCLA study found that ingesting nanotechnology may damage or destroy DNA and chromosomes as one of the scientists told Schneider.
But is nanotechnology entering the food chain? Yes. As Schneider reported, some of the FDA’s own risk assessors have stated that nano-containing foods are showing up on grocer’s shelves in a number of products. Schneider also found a US Department of Agriculture scientist who has first-hand knowledge of Latin American food packers dipping US-bound produce in a nanocoating to increase its shelf life. “We found no indication that the nanocoating, which is manufactured in Asia, has ever been tested for health effects,” the researcher says.
According to Lynn Frewer, professor of food safety at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, “The problem with the digestion of nanoparticles is that we don’t know where in the body they would end up. If they are small enough to travel through the wall of the gut, which some nanoparticles would be designed to do, they could end up anywhere. And how will they accumulate and travel through the food chain? We simply don’t know.”
As The Guardian reported over two years ago, nanotechnology is already being used to make food look prettier, or ripen faster, or ripen more slowly, or keep bugs off. Food wrappers containing nanoparticles are being developed that can sniff out telltale gases given by deteriorating food, triggering color changes on the labels.
Logic alone should tell us that nanotechnology has no place in organic food. As for other food, we need credible scientific evidence that firmly establishes safety, something that is not currently available. If you have not already done so, please TAKE ACTION immediately and contact the US Department of Agriculture to say no to nanotechnology in organic food.”