Tastes Like Nanotechnology

A small step towards federal oversight for the safety of some very small particles that are making their way into foods.

Nanofilters can remove viruses from milk and nanomaterials could soon block cholesterol in canola oil from entering our bloodstream. They can alter the texture of ice cream. Tiny particles in chicken feed can latch onto Campylobacterjejuni and keep the bacteria from getting into our chicken nuggets. Tiny silica spheres could be used to detect the presence of the harmful E. coli 0157 bacteria in organic sprouts.

These nano-innovations have been heralded as a defining feature of the future of our food, but until yesterday, there had been little federal oversight, despite the toxicological risks associated with shrinking materials and adding them to the environment. Moreover, the information remains in the hands of food and agriculture companies.

Now, the Washington Postreports that the Environmental Protection Agency says it will consider adverse effects of nanotechnology in pesticides and the Food and Drug Administration offered draft guidelines on nanotechnology, essentially providing a definition for the industry. If nano-tech is really following genetically modified foods into our supermarkets, let's hope this oversight improves significantly, and that the technology can better deliver on its philanthropic potential.

Image: FDA (via AOL).