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Nanotechnology and Food: An IFT Perspective

Nanotechnology is a rapidly growing field of research that is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy such as medicine, energy, electronic, and defense; and potentially the food and agriculture sector with on-going research in many areas of application. IFT recognizes the potential to positively impact the food industry as well as the possible environmental, health, and safety implications that may negatively impact the food supply chain. IFT thus supports objective and well-designed research and development efforts that address all aspects of the spectrum. To this end, IFT has taken on a leadership role as a catalyst for research, innovation, and communication, both domestically and internationally. Here are details on IFT activities.

It is noteworthy that interest in nanotechnology and food has significantly increased in recent years in both the public and policy arenas. Particular interest has focused on research discoveries on applications in food, potential safety implications, and regulatory oversight.  A new bill, Nanotechnology Safety Act 2010, introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) is seeking to create a new nanotechnology risk assessment program within the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The program will investigate the safety of nanoscale materials intended for use on FDA-regulated products. The bill is seeking an appropriation of $25 million annually between 2011 and 2015 to fund the FDA scheme. For details on the bill visit the Web site.

IFT in collaboration with the FDA, Grocery Manufacturers Association, International Life Sciences Institute-North America, and Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory of the National Cancer Institute are working to establish and increase the knowledge and understanding of the safety of nanomaterials with potential for use in food-related applications. A comprehensive report on safety of nanomaterials for food applications has been developed and is being prepared for publication in peer reviewed food science and toxicological publications. This will work will help inform regulatory processes and may provide scientific support for the proposed Senate Bill. Furthermore, it will help guide future direction of food nanotechnology through gap identification and development of strategic plans to address consumer, regulatory, and industry needs.

Betty BugusuBetty Bugusu
IFT Research Scientist

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