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Wake Up, Consumers. Is Nanotech the New GMO?

Nano in ActionNo question, consciousness around genetic modification of our food supply has skyrocketed in the last few years.  It wasn’t that long ago when advocate and teacher Marion Nestle virtually gave up trying to wake up consumers and now, in 2014, there has been a groundswell of consumer and activist interest in ensuring that we at least know about (if not stop) genetic manipulation of our food through unnatural means (food where “genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination.”).

Yet, why do we hear so little about nanotech, a development that could have implications for human and ecological well-being as great as (if not greater than) GMOs?  For those who don’t know, nanomaterial is so small, it cannot be seen with a microscope and has been permeating everything from cosmetics to packaging to food for animals and humans alike.

Suggestion:  Look in the regulatory weeds.  Less than a week ago, the Food and Drug Administration issued guidance on the use of nanotech in food and cosmetics.  You can download the original here.

Nano - Pretty, yes, but safe?Notably, the guidance does not require manufacturers to do anything and the agency itself is in active monitoring mode, whatever that means.  (The cynical among us likely believe this is tantamount to saying “We will do nothing so industry need not fear.”)

Like genetically modified food before it, nanotech is racing ahead.  Should it be allowed with no pre-release study to determine health and environmental risks?  Should follow-up data be required?  These and other questions are now ripe for review.

It’s your turn.  Submit written comments on the guidance to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061, Rockville, MD  20852.  Submit electronic comments to http://www.regulations.gov.  All comments should be identified with the docket number (FDA-2010-D-0530) listed in the notice of availability that publishes in the Federal Register.

Speak up.  Wake Up.

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