Nanotechnology Needs Research and Regulation
Nanotechnology is the process of manipulating matter at the molecular level – or nanoscale. Nanomaterials have at least one dimension that is 100 nanometers or less. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter – approximately 1/100,000 of a human hair.
This new technology has been touted as the next revolution in many industries, with more than 300 nanoproducts already on the market and sales of over $30 billion in 2005. This includes everything from sunscreen and stain resistant clothing to food, food packaging and dietary supplements. Investments in the global nanofood market alone are expected to reach $20 billion in 2010, with the world’s biggest companies, including Altria, Nestle, Kraft, Heinz and Unilever, involved in nanotechnology research and development.
However, in the rush to incorporate nanoparticles into products already being marketed to the public, comparatively little money has been devoted to researching the health and environmental consequences of nanotechnology.