Untested nanotechnology is being used in more than 100 food products, food packaging and contact materials currently on the shelf, without warning or new FDA testing, according to a report released today by Friends of the Earth.
The report, Out of the Laboratory and onto Our Plates: Nanotechnology in Food and Agriculture, found nanomaterials in popular products and packaging including Miller Light beer, Cadbury Chocolate packaging and ToddlerHealth, a nutritional drink powder for infants sold extensively at health food stores including WholeFoods.
"Nanotech food was put on our plates without FDA testing for consumer safety," said Ian Illuminato, Friends of the Earth Health and Environment Campaigner. "Consumers have a right to know if they are taste-testing a dangerous new technology."
Existing regulations require no new testing or labeling for nanomaterials when they are created from existing approved chemicals, despite major differences in potential toxicity. The report reveals toxicity risks of nanomaterials such as organ damage and decreased immune system response.
"Nanotechnology can be very dangerous when used in food," said report co-author Dr Rye Senjen. "Early scientific evidence indicates that some nanomaterials produce free radicals which destroy or mutate DNA and can cause damage to the liver and kidneys."
Report co-author Georgia Miller, Friends of the Earth Australia Nanotechnology Project Coordinator, said many of the world's largest food companies, including Heinz, Nestle, Unilever and Kraft are currently using and testing nanotechnology for food processing and packaging. Without increased federal oversight, these companies could begin sale of these products whenever they choose.
"There is no legal requirement for manufacturers to label their products that contain nanomaterials, or to conduct new safety tests," said Miller. "This gives manufacturers the ability to force-feed untested technology to consumers without their consent."
Nanotechnology, the manipulation of matter at the scale of atoms and molecules, is now used to manufacture nutritional supplements, flavor and colors additives, food packaging, cling wrap and containers, and chemicals used in agriculture.
"Friends of the Earth calls on the FDA to stop the sale of all nano food, packaging, and agricultural chemicals until strong scientific regulations are enacted to ensure consumer safety and until ingredients are labeled," said Illuminato.
The report, released internationally today in the U.S., Europe and Australia details more than a hundred nano food, food packaging and food contact products now on sale internationally. The Australian government has already welcomed the report and announced that it will begin exploring regulation of nano food and nano agriculture as a result of the report. The full report can be found at www.foe.org.
Friends of the Earth is the U.S. voice of an influential, international network of grassroots groups in 70 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has been at the forefront of high-profile efforts to create a more healthy, just world. One of its current campaigns focuses on combating the spread of nanotechnology without regulation and oversight.
For more information contact:
Nick Berning, 202-222-0748
Ian Illuminato, 202-222-0735