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Safety of nanoparticles in food crops is still unclear

Date:
June 1, 2011
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
With the curtain about to rise on a much-anticipated new era of "nanoagriculture" -- using nanotechnology to boost the productivity of plants for food, fuel, and other uses -- scientists are reporting a huge gap in knowledge about the effects of nanoparticles on corn, tomatoes, rice and other food crops.

With the curtain about to rise on a much-anticipated new era of "nanoagriculture" -- using nanotechnology to boost the productivity of plants for food, fuel, and other uses -- scientists are reporting a huge gap in knowledge about the effects of nanoparticles on corn, tomatoes, rice and other food crops.

Their article appears in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Jorge Gardea-Torresdey, a co-investigator for the NSF/EPA University of California Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology, and colleagues at The University of Texas at El Paso, note that nanoparticles, which are 1/50,000th the width of a human hair, are used in products ranging from medicines to cosmetics. The particles also could end up in the environment, settling in the soil, especially as fertilizers, growth enhancers and other nanoagricultural products hit the market. Some plants can take-up and accumulate nanoparticles. But it is unclear whether this poses a problem for plants or for the animals (like humans) that eat them. So, the researchers sorted through the scientific literature looking for evidence to settle the safety question.

In the article, the scientists analyzed nearly 100 scientific articles on the effects of different types of nanoparticles on edible plants. They found that the uptake and build-up of nanoparticles varies, and these factors largely depend on the type of plant and the size and chemical composition of the nanoparticles. "This literature review has confirmed that knowledge on plant toxicity of [nanomaterials] is at the foundation stage," the article states, noting that the emerging field of nanoecotoxicology is starting to tackle this topic.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Cyren M. Rico, Sanghamitra Majumdar, Maria Duarte-Gardea, Jose R. Peralta-Videa, Jorge L. Gardea-Torresdey. Interaction of Nanoparticles with Edible Plants and Their Possible Implications in the Food Chain. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2011; 59 (8): 3485 DOI: 10.1021/jf104517j

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Safety of nanoparticles in food crops is still unclear." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110601111401.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2011, June 1). Safety of nanoparticles in food crops is still unclear. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110601111401.htm
American Chemical Society. "Safety of nanoparticles in food crops is still unclear." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110601111401.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

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