Careful with that Large Hadron Collider, Eugene

The Irish Times reports on a report by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) who have decided that “Food nanotechnology involves the use of tiny particles (nanoparticles) which can be 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair, to modify processed food.”

While the FSAI admit that no foods currently on the Irish market use nanotechnology, they still recommend that “policies should be devised now in advance of their arrival”. Their report also calls for “a EU-wide legislative framework to regulate the use of nanotechnology in food, including the introduction of mandatory labelling. A national list of products containing nanoparticles should be compiled and monitored by the FSAI.”

It’s nice to know that government agencies around the world are busy worrying about, and compiling lists of things that may never happen, and recommending that we set up task forces and monitoring systems just in case they ever run out of work to do. I suppose the major problem is that nanotechnologies have been successfully confused with GMOs by a number of NGOs in the minds of various regulatory authorities.

Confusing a totally different technology with a technology that people are already confused about is always a good strategy, and regulators in Europe will invoke the precautionary principle quicker than you can say “careful with that Large Hadron Collider, Eugene.”

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