GLOBAL - Nanotechnology presents many opportunities for improving agriculture, but new research from the European Commission Joint Research Centre has revealed inconsistencies in the way it is regulated across the world.
Nanotechnology offers substantial prospects for the development of innovative products and applications in many industrial sectors, including agricultural production, animal feed and treatment, food processing and food contact materials.
In animal agriculture, the major opportunities include improved feed quality and availability of nutrients through nano-encapsulation, elimination or reduction of pathogens and improved delivery of veterinary drugs.
While some applications are already marketed, many other nano-enabled products are currently under research and development, and may enter the market in the near future.
An overview of regulatory solutions worldwide on the use of nanotechnology in food and feed production shows a differing approach: only the EU and Switzerland have nano-specific provisions incorporated in existing legislation, whereas other countries count on non-legally binding guidance and standards for industry.
Collaboration among countries across the globe is required to share information and ensure protection for people and the environment, according to the paper.
The paper reviews how potential risks or the safety of nanotechnology are managed in different countries around the world and recognises that this may have implication on the international market of nano-enabled agricultural and food products.
As with any other regulated product, applicants applying for market approval have to demonstrate the safe use of such new products without posing undue safety risks to the consumer and the environment.
Some countries have been more active than others in examining the appropriateness of their regulatory frameworks for dealing with the safety of nanotechnologies. As a consequence, different approaches have been adopted in regulating nano-based products in the agri/feed/food sector.
The analysis shows that the EU along with Switzerland are the only ones which have introduced binding nanomaterial definitions and/or specific provisions for some nanotechnology applications.
An example would be the EU labelling requirements for food ingredients in the form of 'engineered nanomaterials'. Other regions in the world regulate nanomaterials more implicitly mainly by building on non-legally binding guidance and standards for industry.
You can view the full report by clicking here.
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