Saturday, June 11, 2011

too secretive nanoparticles Food industry

The industry is "very reluctant to put its head above the parapet and be open about research on nanotechnology," said study chairperson Lord John Krebs.

The food industry is being secretive about the extent to which it's adopted nanotechnology, according to a document by the United Kingdom's House of Lords Science and Expertise Committee.

"They got their fingers burnt over the use of GM crops and so they require to keep a low profile on this issue. They think that they ought to adopt exactly the opposite approach. In case you require to build confidence you ought to be open than secretive."

Nanotechnology refers to the practice of manipulating particles on the scale of one-billionth of a meter. Particles of this size behave in a fundamentally different fashion than they do on the more familiar scale, producing a wide range of novel applications. Because nanoparticles are not currently regulated any differently than larger particles, they are already making their way in to consumer products, from sunscreens and cosmetics to clothing and sporting goods. Their industrial and medical makes use of are also being explored.

It is "regrettable that the food industry [is] refusing to discuss its work in the area," the document says.

The food industry is inquiring in to ways that nanotechnology can be used for applications such as flavor or even nutritional enhancement, but has taken advantage of the regulatory loophole to keep these practices secret.

"We are not clear what is out there in use at the moment," Krebs said.

According to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnolgies, there's at least 84 food-related products making use of nanotechnology already. Yet due to industry secrecy, such numbers are necessarily speculative and probably underestimates.

The document estimates that the nanotechnology market will balloon from its current value of $410 million to over $4.1 billion in the next years.

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