Will nanofoods sneak onto our plates?


17th March 2011

All three EU institutions met last night to discuss the regulation of Novel Foods. The EEB is concerned that last night’s discussions appears to have ended in deadlock over cloning meaning ‘nanofood’ might escape any serious attention.

Both of these issues fall under the Novel Foods Regulation.

“There are many concerns over the impacts of nanotechnology on people and the environment and the fact it can now end up in our food without food authorities fully understanding its impacts is seriously worrying,” say Louise Duprez, EEB Nanotechnology Policy Officer.

Studies suggest that nanomaterials may pose new risks to human health, such as damage to DNA and asbestos-like diseases. Because food is ingested, the food sector requires extra cautious attention from regulators, says EEB.

EEB is calling for a clear reference to scientific uncertainty regarding testing methods in the regulation. It should be made clear, in the body of the regulation, that no market authorisation will be possible until strong and reliable test methodologies have been agreed on.

UPDATE 29th March

Having met for a final round of discussions last night and after three years of deliberation, the three EU institutions failed to agree on a new Novel Foods Regulation. Due to the divisive cloning issue, which also falls under Novel Foods Regulation, no progress was made to regulate the use of nanotechnology in food.

This means that food produced with the help of nanotechnology will not be specifically addressed under EU law for many years.

EEB is disappointed with this outcome, having previously pointed out the dangers of ignoring nanofoods.

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