Tuesday, April 8, 2014


     The wonders of modern science are truly mind-boggling.  First we had GMO, then we had BPA and now -tada!- the purveyors of our foodstuffs proudly present - NANO!

     As you know, in our blog we have beaten the heck out of GMO and stated our aversion to all things Monsanto, and then we jumped all over plastics and can linings and BPA.  Bloody but unbowed, science has now snuck in the back door with a science fiction staple - nanoparticles.

     Nanotechnology, that geeky mad scientist vision of the future, has now invaded the food industry.  While we may not thrill to the idea of tiny robots scurrying about our bodies, poking their teensy noses into every cell and molecule, we can at least see the possibilities of their being useful in a medical sense.  In our food - not so much.

     Few, if any, studies demonstrate the safety of nanoparticles in food, yet nanomaterials are making their way into our food supplies.  Currently the United States has no labeling requirement for products or packaging containing nanomaterials.  The FDA has stated that nanomaterials cannot generally be regarded as safe.  Ingredients that are GRAS (generally recognized as safe) at the macro level may not be safe at the nanoscale.

     Their small size allows nanoparticles to go places in the body that larger particles cannot.  Whether you inhale 'em, eat 'em or rub 'em on your skin, once they get in you they can penetrate cell walls and pass into the lymph and blood system.  From there it's a hop, skip and jump to bone marrow, lymph nodes, spleen, liver, heart and they're even small enough to cross the blood brain barrier.  

     A laboratory study showed titanium dioxide nanoparticles in the white powdered sugar that coats Dunkin' Donuts Powdered Cake Donuts and Hostess Donettes. (See Slipping Through the Cracks: An Issue Brief on Nanomaterials in Food http://asyousow.org/health_safety/nanoissuebrief.shtml.)

     Back in 1966 a classic sci-fi movie was released called Fantastic Voyage.  To save the life of a diplomat, a group of doctors and scientists in a submarine were were shrunk down to the size of a bacterium and injected into the diplomat to "make repairs internally".  This is actually the cutting edge of medicine today (not tiny scientists - nanobots).  Amazing - and no prob.  Years of research and countless studies enabled such breakthroughs.  Unfortunately, when it comes to what goes into our foodstuffs, the attitude seems to be "Oh, wow.  A whole country full of lab rats.  Let's throw this out and see if anybody develops anything interesting."

      If you needed still another reason to avoid processed foods, think about this one.  Pleasant dreams.