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Scientists Worry About Potential Risks of Nanotechnology in Food

User ID: 62240
United States
09/07/2006 12:41 PM
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Scientists Worry About Potential Risks of Nanotechnology in Food
By Charles Q. Choi
Special to LiveScience
posted: 07 September 2006
08:57 am ET

In the next five years, dozens of food and agriculture products could emerge based on nanotechnology, including a chocolate milkshake that supposedly tastes better and is more nutritious than conventional shakes and chickenfeed additives that can remove dangerous germs from poultry.

However, investigators caution research is lacking into the environmental, health and safety risks posed by nanotechnology when it comes to food and agriculture.

The findings are detailed in a report released today from the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

"This should serve as a wakeup call. We have an opportunity to see what is in the future and to focus on health and safety research now," researcher Jennifer Kuzma, a biochemist and risk policy expert at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis, told LiveScience.

Invisible technology

Nanotechnology deals with construction blocks only billionths of a meter or nanometers large, hundredths of a wavelength of visible light. Substances at that scale can take on radically different properties not seen in their bulk counterparts.

For instance, while gold is normally chemically inert, which keeps gold rings lustrous, gold nanoparticles can prove highly reactive.

As nanotechnology takes advantage of these novel traits for use in a wide and growing range of applications, concerns are growing as to whether nanoparticles, nanotubes and other nanoscale components might have unforeseen consequences when exposed to humans or the environment. For instance, a great deal of conflicting data surrounds the issue of whether or not carbon nanotubes are toxic
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 140600
09/07/2006 01:15 PM
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Re: Scientists Worry About Potential Risks of Nanotechnology in Food
Stuff like this is usually tested illegally before it's released to the public domain.