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Opinion: U.S. Should Follow Europe and Put the Brakes on Nanotech Food and Other Products

European Parliament voted in favor of excluding nanotechnology from the EU list of novel foods allowed on the market.  This committee vote represents one of the first times ever that a legislative body has weighed in on the issue of nanotech particles in food. (Nanotechnology refers to materials or devices developed on an atomic or molecular scale, sized between 1 to 100 nanometers -- basically, really, really, really tiny novel particles that our skin and other organs have never before encountered at this scale.)

For those of us watching how government views nanotechnology, this was welcome ngws.

Whether we are focusing on food or other consumer goods, so far more than a thousand products containing nanoparticles are currently available in the U.S. These nano-enabled products have been put on the market without testing their possible impacts on human health or the environment. And, without stringent government review and without regulation, these products are foisted on an unsuspecting public. People are using nanotechnology, such as sunscreen containing nanoparticles of zinc oxide, on a daily basis, almost completely unaware of what they're putting on their bodies.

In some cases, nanotechnology has proven benefits, but without a clear understanding of the health and environmental impacts, how can the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and the public assess whether or not use of nanotech products is worth the risks? Nanotechnology practically cries out for regulation. 


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