Nanotechnology

New report: "Tiny Ingredients, Big Risks: Nanomaterials rapidly entering food and farming"

This new report documents a tenfold increase in unregulated, unlabeled “nanofood” products on the American market since 2008. The products containing unlabeled nano-ingredients range from Kraft American Singles to Hershey’s chocolate. They are made by major companies including Kraft, General Mills, Hershey, Nestle, Mars, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Smucker’s and Albertsons. But due to a lack of labeling and disclosure, a far greater number of food products with undisclosed nanomaterials are likely currently on the market. These nanomaterials differ significantly from larger particles of the same chemical composition, and new studies are adding to a growing body of scientific evidence indicating they may be more toxic to humans and the environment.

Read the press release here.


Nanotechnology is a powerful emerging technology for taking apart and reconstructing nature at the atomic and molecular level. Nanoscale -- or extremely tiny -- materials now show up in a broad array of consumer products. Nanoparticles show novel physicochemical properties in comparison to larger sized particles of the same substance. While nanotechnology is being touted as a potential catalyst for the next industrial revolution and could have far-ranging impacts, the field is being commercialized largely outside of public view or debate, and with few regulations to protect workers, the public and the environment.

Friends of the Earth is pushing our government and policymakers in other countries to regulate nanotech industries with a precautionary approach that puts people's health before corporate profits. We also push for the mandatory labeling of products that contain nanomaterials so that consumers can make informed decisions.

Nanomaterials are in many cosmetic productsOur current focus is to achieve regulations on the use of nanomaterials in food, sunscreens and cosmetics -- and on the widespread and increasing use of nano-silver, a powerful germ-killer that can be found in everything from toys to clothes to toothpaste.

Studies indicate that manufactured nanomaterials used in sunscreens (such as zinc oxide and titanium oxide) have the potential to harm our health. These sunscreens can also harm our environment when they wash off of people while in the shower or swimming, allowing potentially toxic nanomaterials to be absorbed up the food chain from smaller to larger organisms and to damage microbes that are helpful to ecosystems.

Doctor in wardSilver has long been used for its antimicrobial properties, but its widespread use in nano form could breed bacterial resistance, ruining its use where it is needed most -- in hospitals -- and speeding the development of super bugs. Close to 100,000 Americans die each year because of untreatable infections -- more than two times the annual road toll.

Friends of the Earth has published several groundbreaking reports on the prevalence and risks of nanomaterials to inform public debate and government solutions, and we work with a variety of partners around the world to monitor the increasing use of this technology and advance common principles for government oversight. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is one of our key coalition partners in our work to eliminate nanomaterials and other potentially dangerous chemicals from cosmetics and personal care products.

Reports

Tiny Ingredients, big risks: Nanomaterials rapidly entering food and farming
This report documents a tenfold increase in unregulated, unlabeled nano-ingredients in food products from major companies.

Nano-silver: Policy failure puts public health at risk
This report makes the case that over use of nano-silver as an antimicrobial in an increasing array of consumer products may harm the public.

Nanotechnology, climate and energy: Over-heated promises and hot air?
This groundbreaking report rigorously examines claims that nanotechnology will allow for continued economic growth and resource use while minimizing environmental impacts, showing that to date nanotechnology has failed to make good on these promises.

Out of the laboratory and onto our plates: Nanotechnology in food & agriculture
This report finds that untested nanotechnology is being used in more than 100 food products, food packaging and contact materials currently on the shelf, without warning or FDA testing.

Nanomaterials, Sunscreens and Cosmetics: Small Ingredients, Big Risks
Corporations around the world are rapidly introducing thousands of tons of nanomaterials into the environment and onto the faces and hands of millions of people, despite the growing body of evidence indicating that nanomaterials can be toxic to humans and the environment.

Manufactured nanomaterials and sunscreens: Top reasons for precaution
Nanomaterials are already being used (unlabelled) in hundreds of consumer products including sunscreens and cosmetics. This report explains why this is reason for concern.

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