Just like with genetic engineering, nanotechnology’s use in foods is unpopular. Public opinion surveys, included a survey of 1010 people commissioned last year by FoEA, have shown that people would prefer to keep untested, potentially unsafe nanoparticles out of food. Nano-ingredients are now found in foods, food packaging and agricultural inputs sold internationally. But despite this, and regulatory gaps that leave nanofoods effectively unregulated, nanotoxicology experts giving evidence to the UK’s House of Lords Inquiry have emphasised that this is also one of the most poorly funded areas of health and safety research.

Key concerns raised by the nanotoxicologists included: the capacity of nanomaterials in food to act as ‘Trojan Horses’, smuggling bacterial toxins and other foreign bodies across the gut wall; the fact that emerging definitions of nanomaterials as 100nm or less are too narrow for health and safety purposes, and that more flexible definitions must be used; the inadequacy of the OECD co-ordinated risk research efforts; the extremely limited research that has been done into the effects of nanomaterials in food, and the extremely limited number of long-term studies.

Government regulators and representatives of the food and beverage industry have also given evidence to the inquiry. Representatives from the UK consumer group Which?, the Soil Association and Friends of the Earth Australia will give evidence today.

For transcripts of all the aural evidence presented so far visit: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld/lduncorr.htm#s&ti