Nanobots in Your Food: Good or Bad?

I am trying to understand what to think about food nanotechnology and whether it is good, bad, or indifferent. Nanotechnology refers to the use of very small particles for doing any number of things to food. I've been collecting items about it:

    • A recent review of the use of nanotechnology concluded that it has many possible benefits in improving the nutritional quality of foods.

    • Nanotech particles from corn act as antioxidant emulsifiers.

    • Nanotech particles enhance the bioavailability of beneficial plant chemicals.

But what about their safety? Could nanoparticles cross cell membranes and end up being harmful? The technology to produce the particles does not cost much. This means anyone can make and use them, including food manufacturers who don't want to bother with safety testing. So: is nanotechnology the new asbestos?

If you know something about this, please weigh in. Thanks and happy new year!

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Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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