|Nanotech Wikimedia Commons Image|
Ethan A. Huff
Since 2006, the use of nanoparticles in consumer products has skyrocketed by over 600 percent. Nanotechnologies, which involve the manipulation of elements and other matter on the atomic and molecular scale, are now used in over 1,300 commercial and consumer products. And that number is expected to jump nearly three-fold by 2020. But are these nanoparticles safe for humans and the environment, particularly when used in food-related applications?
According to data provided by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN), a group formed in 2005 for the purpose of “creat[ing] an active public and policy dialogue” on nanotechnology, nanoparticles are now used in everything from car batteries and appliances, to aluminum foil and non-stick cookware. The “Food and Beverage” section of PEN even includes various vitamin and mineral supplements that contain nanoparticles, as well as McDonald’s hamburger boxes.
Many people believe that nanotechnology may be “the next industrial revolution,” but is the technology really safe? Just like genetically-modified organisms (GMO), nanotechnology has never been proven to be safe for humans or for the environment. Deconstructing and reassembling molecular components and injecting these altered molecules back into our clothing, furniture, cars, and food is really more of a giant experiment in human health than it is a successful technological breakthrough.