An emerging threat: Greater manipulation of food on an atomic scale
For many years there have been concern about chemicals added to foods to enhance color, flavor, and shelf life. There has also been concern over the use of genetic modifications to crops and to increase yields and disease resistance. But there is a less heard of, multi-billion dollar industry which is gaining an ever increasing foothold in the market and in the imaginations of the corporate, profit-obsessed food industry.
Nanotechnology is the manipulation of materials on a scale of less than 100 nanometres (nm). To put that into perspective a human hair is 80,000nm across. These technologies are able to change materials on an atomic level, allowing the scientists to create materials and devices that have never been possible before. According to industry experts, the foods of the future will be able to be wrapped in smart packaging that can detect spoilage and release chemical agents to prevent further spoilage. The nanoparticles can be designed to allow tracking of food from farm to plate, and some particles will be able to tailor food to have the properties and nutrients that the marketing companies wish to sell. This means that there could be junk food made with nanotechnology that will be able to claim that it cleans your arteries when you eat it.
Billions invested in new research
The main areas of nanotechnology research at the moment are the modification of seeds and fertilizers, fortification of foods, smart foods, smart packaging and food tracking. It is estimated that over $30 billion have been invested in research so far.
Modification of seeds at this level goes beyond what is possible with genetic engineering where genes are transferred from crop to crop.
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