Safety of Nanoparticles in Food Crops Is Still Unclear

Researchers at the University of Texas at El Paso, United States, have conducted a review of nearly 100 scientific articles on the effects of different types of nanoparticles on edible plants.  According to the article, the curtain is 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.”  There remains, however, a huge gap in knowledge about the effects of nanoparticles on corn, tomatoes, rice and other food crops.  Some plants can take-up and accumulate nanoparticles, but it is unclear if this process hurts the plants, or the animals that eat them.  The researchers found the uptake and build-up of nanoparticles varies, with the factors depending largely on the type of plant and the size and chemical composition of the nanoparticles.  The article concludes: “This literature review has confirmed that knowledge on plant toxicity of [nanomaterials] is at the foundation stage,” and notes that the emerging field of nanoecotoxicology is just starting to tackle this topic.