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Posted: July 18, 2007
Nanotechnology in food and farming is inadequately regulated
(Nanowerk News) Nanotechnology in food and farming is inadequately regulated, say Australian researchers.
Rural sociologist Dr Kristin Lyons of Griffith University and colleagues present a survey of possible nano-applications in agriculture and food at the Rural Futures conference in Canberra this week.
"Despite significant investment from the agrifood sector in nanotechnologies, the need for nano-specific regulation in this area hasn't been recognised as a priority by the federal government," says Lyons.
She says the nano-agrifood industry will be worth more than US$20 billion by 2010, with heavy investment from companies like Syngenta, Monsanto, Kraft Foods and Heinz.
Lyons says one of the claimed agricultural benefits for nanotechnology is the development of more efficient methods of applying pesticides.
For example, creating nano-sized versions of pesticide molecules could lead to nanopesticide emulsions that are more stable, more toxic to pests and better absorbed into plants, she says.
But Lyons says the same characteristics that make nanopesticides desirable could also present new risks to humans or the environment.
For example, the ability for nanoparticles to penetrate the surface of plants may mean they also penetrate into edible parts of the crop, she says.