Following on from genetic engineering, nanotechnology represents the latest high technology attempt to infiltrate our food supply. Senior scientists have warned that nanotechnology, the manipulation of matter at the scale of atoms and molecules, introduces serious new risks to human and environmental health. Yet in the absence of public debate, or oversight from regulators, unlabelled foods manufactured using nanotechnology have begun to appear on our supermarket shelves.
Around the world there is an increase in interest in our food, health and environment. Where are products produced, how, why, by whom, how far have they travelled, how long have they been stored etc. The organic and local food movements have emerged as an intuitive and practical response to the increasing use of chemicals in food production, and to the growing alienation of industrial agribusiness from holistic agricultural systems. People have chosen to eat organic foods because they care about the health of their families and the health of the environment. Organic agriculture also enables people to support integrated, environmentally friendly agriculture, and appropriate technology, rather than chemical-intensive factory farming.
Support for organics has also grown as a direct response to biotechnology giants’ efforts to genetically engineer our food crops. Farmers and food buyers around the world were, and continue to be, enraged by the introduction of genetically engineered food crops. For many, the inevitable conclusion was that whereas the biotechnology companies stood to benefit from the entry of genetically engineered foods into the food chain, consumers, farmers and the environment shouldered all the risks.
Now, nanotechnology introduces a new wave of assaults on our foods. Nanotechnology is the high technology, atomically processed antithesis to organic agriculture, which values the natural health-giving properties of fresh, unprocessed wholefoods. It further transforms the farm into an automated extension of the high technology factory production line, using patented products that will inevitably concentrate corporate control. It also introduces serious new risks for human health and the environment.
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