By Ben Lilliston
The idea that engineered nanomaterials (involving the manipulation of materials at the molecular level) would be allowed in certified organic food production seems ludicrous on its face. Allowing nanotechnology would seemingly destroy the credibility of the organic label with consumers. Yet, the National Organic Standards Board Materials Committee issued a proposal for public comment recently requesting that the USDA’s National Organic Program hold a symposium on whether nanotechnology in organic production is “possible, practical and legal.”
In a comment to the National Organic Standards Board sent earlier this week, IATP’s Steve Suppan takes issue with the assumption that federal regulators can effectively regulate engineered nanomaterials in food production—meaning, any kind of food production, organic or not. The nanotech industry has been reluctant to submit product data on the environmental, safety and health effects of nanomaterials in food production. Currently, there are no requirements that the industry submit such data before nanoproducts enter the market. And in fact, according to an explosive report from AOL News earlier this year, they already have already entered the marketplace without regulatory oversight.
Steve writes, “Food processing and agribusiness firms engaged in nanotechnology research, sometimes in cooperation with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, have not submitted to regulatory authorities the food and agri-nanotechnology data required to carry out risk assessment to develop standards. […] USDA’s National Organic Program, rather than joining FDA in assuming that food and agri-nanotechnology can be regulated under current authority, should adopt a presumptive prohibiltion on ENMs (engineered nanomaterials) in products that meet the organic standard.”
Read IATP’s full comment to the NOSB
Also see AOL’s entire nanotech series
– Amid Nanotech’s Dazzling Promise, Health Risks Grow
– Regulated or Not, Nano-Foods Coming to a Store Near You
– Obsession With Growth Stymies Regulators
– Why Nanotech Hasn’t (Yet) Triggered the ‘Yuck Factor’
– Nano-Products Are Everywhere
AOL Continuing Nanotech Coverage:
White House Advisers: Nanotech Safety Efforts ‘Commendable’
A government report does little to address health concerns, while warning that U.S. may fall behind in efforts to commercialize nanotech.
Opinion: A Misleading Portrait of Nanotechnology
The director of theNational Nanotechnology Coordination Office responds to AOL News’ findings.
Worries About Oil Remedy
An oil dispersant that a contains nanoparticles hasn’t been tested enough to use for cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico, scientists say.
Bad News About Sunscreen
Nanoparticles used in sunscreens have the potential to seriously harm human health, a report says.
Nanosilver in Fabric?
A Swiss company may soon win U.S. approval to use nanosilver to make clothing stay cleaner. But some scientists worry about the health effects.