Nanotechnologies and Food
HL 22-I, First Report of Session 2009-10 – Volume I: Report
- House of Lords – Science and Technology Committee
- TSO (The Stationery Office)
Nanotechnology and nanomaterials have a range of potential applications in the food sector that may offer benefits to both consumers and industry. However the public's attitude towards food can be influenced by a fear of novel risks, the level of trust in the effectiveness of regulation and other wider social and psychological factor. 'Nanotechnologies and Food (HL 22)' reports on how nanotechnologies in the food sector may well elicit some of these concerns.
The Science and Technology Committee criticises the food industry for failing to be transparent about its research into the uses of nanotechnologies and nanomaterials. Transparency and honesty are key components for ensuring public trust in both food safety and scientific developments.
The Committee also urges the Government and Research Councils adequately to fund research into potential health and safety risks arising from the use of nanomaterials in the food sector. There are significant gaps in the understanding of how nanomaterials impact on the human body, particularly the gut, and it is not currently possible to predict what risks specific nanomaterials may present.
The report recommends that the Food Standards Agency should maintain a publicly available register of food and food packaging containing nanomaterials. This register could be made available online. Nanomaterials should be defined clearly in food legislation to ensure that all uses of nanomaterials in food are subject to appropriate risk assessment procedures. The Committee also raises concerns about the potential for the illegal importation of food products containing nanomaterials not approved for use in food in the EU.
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