(NaturalNews) If you need another reason to avoid processed and packaged foods, have a look at the lax standards surrounding nanotechnology. Falling under a system similar to the FDA's food additive GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) designation, nanomaterial is already infiltrating the food supply without oversight. Even organics are at risk. Used in food packaging and food itself, nanoparticles are also found in many body care lotions, sunscreens, cosmetics, clothing and glare-reducing eyeglass coatings. With nanotechnology product sales reaching $225 billion in 2009 alone, these engineered particles are big business. Nonetheless, the question begs to be asked: are they safe?
Considerable conflict of interest
Where GRAS food additives are concerned, manufacturers are running the show - not the FDA. In 1997, the agency announced a voluntary notification system. If food manufacturers were so inclined, they could inform the FDA of any new additive they (the manufacturer) considered appropriate for GRAS classification. As stated in the article, "'Safety assessments' on nearly all common food additives found to be manipulated by processed food industry: Study:"
"Between 1997 and 2012, the FDA reportedly received 451 voluntary notifications about new food additives, 100 percent of which came from individuals and groups connected in one way or another to the food industry. Rather than be accompanied by independent safety research, every single one of these new additives came with "safety data" conjured by the companies that produce them, a serious conflict of interest that apparently has become the standard rather than the exception."
Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University, further explains the process in USA Today:
"The companies hire a consulting firm to get experts for them and then the experts review the information that's available and then they write a letter to FDA saying this additive should be considered GRAS."
Not exactly the most objective method for introducing a new element into the food supply. A similar protocol applies to nanomaterial as well.
Possible health risks
Nanotechnology is the process of manipulating matter at the molecular level. Considered revolutionary, over 300 products already utilize the technology. Nestle, Kraft, Altria, Heinz and Unilever all heavily research and develop nanoproducts. Regardless of corporate profit, the fact remains that nanomaterial is untested and presents several safety concerns, mainly the potential to:
- Bypass the blood-brain barrier as well as the placenta
- Increase bioavailability of chemicals and toxins
- Migrate throughout the body to organs and tissues
Furthermore, since nanoparticles differ in total surface area compared to their larger counterparts, they are more reactive and have greater toxicity than what would occur at normal size.
Although the FDA recognizes the possible health risks, it has yet to establish stringent safety standards. A draft guide for the food processing industry was released in 2012 stating that "nanotechnology could affect the identity, safety, and regulatory status of a food substance, and may warrant a regulatory submission to the FDA," according to the Alliance for Natural Health. However, once again, the burden is placed upon the manufacturer to determine whether the product is safe and if it's necessary to notify the FDA or not.
Unfortunately, there isn't a guarantee that organic food hasn't been contaminated with nanomaterial either. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) has recommended the prohibition of nanoparticles in certified organic food, but the panel has not thoroughly implemented the proposal.
About the author: Carolanne believes if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change. As a nutritionist, natural foods chef and wellness coach, she has encouraged others to embrace a healthy lifestyle of green living for over 13 years. Through her website www.Thrive-Living.net, she looks forward to connecting with other like-minded people who share a similar vision.