rules and costs threaten nano science benefits
of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/Food-safety-rules-and-costs-threaten-nano-science-benefits
By Mike Stones, 16-Jun-2009
Over restrictive federal regulation of
nano science should not be allowed to strangle the benefits the technology
could bring to food safety, quality and availability, warns William
Norwood, president nanoAgri Systems.
Speaking at the IFT International Nanoscience conference at Anaheim,
California, Norwood told FoodProductionDaily.com that: “The benefits of nano technology across a wide range of industries could be
more important than nuclear energy. But restrictive rules could kill
it…Nano is now a fear word.”
Environmental groups are lobbying the Environmental Protection
Agency in a bid to persuade it to close the US nano industry, he said.
Also the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act is
placing big barriers to the development of nanotechnology.
But nano science
could make vast contributions to cutting food waste and improving quality.
“The US armed services alone waste millions of dollars a year on fruit
and vegetable spoilage. Only about 40 per cent of produce reaches the end
user.” That could be prevented with antimicrobial
nanotech coatings on vegetable packages which could save millions of
dollars a year, he said. It could also help to reduce reliance on
Norwood told delegates that he became interested in nanotechnology
as a means of safeguarding his vegetable packaging business. A number of
his customers were going out of business because salmonella and molds had
infected their produce. Norwood’s remedy was to develop a machine capable
of coating vegetable packages with a nano layer of silver that acted as an
This was achieved by passing nano-sized droplets through a flame
which transforms them into a vapour. This vapour coats the packaging
painting it with a layer of nanoparticles.
In tests, this coating delayed the development of salmonella,
listeria and E-coli. Although precisely how nanoparticles kill microbes is
unknown, their positive charges are thought to disrupt the organisms’
Other applications for antimicrobial nano layers could be to coat
all forms of food packaging, conveyer belts and contact surfaces, he said.
But Norwood said that his company has decided not to market the
anti-microbial veg packages until approval is granted by the Environmental
Protection Agency. At present that process could take up to two years and
cost several thousand dollars.
The potential benefits of nano science are too great to ignore, he
continued. “There’s a real problem with the world’s food supply and nano
science could make a big impact on it.” But for that to happen
scientists, regulators and manufacturers should become much more familiar
Meanwhile, Norwood said that the physical dimensions of a
nanoparticle were in the same proportions to a foot ball as a foot ball is
to the earth.
He estimated the value of the US nanotechnology industry as $60bn
which could rise to $2.8 trillion by 2014.