USDA spends $3.8 mln to boost nanotechnology in food

The US Department of Agriculture will fund over $3.8 million for nanotechnology research to be used in food.

The Center for Food Safety is fully concerned with the project. According to them, "the subject of nanotechnology and our food supply offers an alarming view of the potential for human health issues. Amazingly, the U.S. government currently does not regulate the use of nanotechnology in food products, despite its widespread use and serious public health concerns. Europe and the Canadian government have taken the first steps to limit the use of nanotechnology in food, but the U.S. has so far only issued draft guidelines to companies."

Millions of dollars will be granted to the US universities for the development and use of nanotech in full force. Despite the fact that nanotechnology has been widely spread in packaging, now it will be used directly in food we eat.

"The most commonly used nanoparticle in foods is titanium dioxide. It's used to make foods such as yogurt and coconut flakes look as white as possible, provide opacity to other food colorings, and prevent ingredients from caking up. Nanotech isn't just about aesthetics, however," according to Popular Mechanics.

Jonathan Brown, a research fellow at the University of Minnesota, says "this method could be used to make mayonnaise less fattening by replacing fat molecules with water droplets."

Such companies as Kraft, General Mills, Hershey, Nestle, Mars, Unilever, Smucker's and Albertsons have already deployed the method.

The Rutgers University grant reveals that the USDA will be funding market research to directly benefit the businesses seeking to manufacture and market nanotechnology for food.

The Rutgers University will be provided with $450,000 and will have to "assess consumers' beliefs about the relationship of nanotechnology to healthfulness; evaluate acceptability of nanomaterials in functional foods and pet food applications; examine the acceptable characteristics of nano-enabled smart food packaging; assess use value of visuals communicating the potential for nanotechnology; and examine how consumers use visuals to interpret nanotechnology concepts."

The USDA and other health oversight agencies though have a long track record of approving controversial practices used in our food that later turn out to have deadly health and environmental impacts. Understanding the current players in the agro-tech business including Monsanto and Syngenta, it can be seen how this could end badly.

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Author`s name Editorial Team