Scientists are applying nanotechnology to a wide range of industries, including food, food packaging, kitchenware, personal care, medicine, electronics, clothing, sports equipment, fertilizers, and pesticides. There are more than 800 consumer products on the market made using nanotechnology. A tableware set contains a nano silver coating that kills bacteria, aiming to prevent food-borne diseases. A toothpaste contains nanoparticles that help remove plaque and provide minerals to protect against tooth decay. A golf club shaft is made from "nano composite technology" to be stronger and lighter weight.
Disturbingly, nanotechnology could also be used to make chemical and biological weapons. A report by NATO's Parliamentary Assembly Committee stated, "The potential for nanotechnology innovations in chemical and biological weapons is particularly disquieting, as nanotechnology can considerably enhance the delivery mechanisms of agents or toxic substances."
Like genetically modified foods, products of nanotechnology pose risks to human health and the environment. Nanopaticles are more chemically reactive than larger particles. Because they are so small, they have greater access to the human body than larger particles. They can be inhaled, penetrate skin, gain access to tissues and cells, and cross the blood-brain barrier.
Assessing the risks of nanotechnology is lagging far behind. "There is virtually no data on chronic, long-term effects on people, other organisms or the wider environment," wrote British scientist John Lawton, author of a report from the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution.
Initial studies raise red flags. A recent study published in Nature showed that carbon nanotubes may exhibit the same cancer-causing potential as asbestos. In tests on rats, nanosilver has also been shown to be toxic to liver, brain, and stem cells and may harm beneficial bacteria.
Consumers in the dark
As American consumers eat GM foods without their knowledge, so they are unaware of using and consuming nano-based products. There is very little public awareness of nanotechnology. One survey found that 49% of Americans haven't heard anything about nanotechnology, 26% heard just a little, 17% heard some, and only 7% heard a lot.
And it gets even worse...
Over the objections of the OCA and thousands of our members, on November 5, 2009, the National Organic Standards Board decided to table the recommendation to prohibit nanotechnology in organic. The NOSB member who fills the scientist slot, Katrina Heinze of General Mills, delayed the process by insisting that the Board consider a compromise position that wouldn't exclude nanotechnology from organic altogether, but would classify it as a "synthetic" that could be petitioned for use in specific instances. Please write to the NOSB and tell them to ban untested, unlabeled and hazardous nanotechnology products and ingredients in organic.
You can use the link below to tell the USDA that you want the National Organic Standards Board to take a strong stand against the use of nanotechnology in organic.