Apr

20

Nanofood: Legal and Regulatory Challenges

Abu Bakar Munir* and Siti Hajar Mohd. Yasin**

ABSTRACT –  Nanotechnology will have a significant impact on food production in a variety of ways, both directly and indirectly. The growth and complexity of nanotechnology in food applications poses new challenges for the existing food regulation as well as the regulatory authority. This article seeks to examine the legal and regulatory challenges posed by the nanotechnology applications in the food industry. This article reviews some of the relevant legislation in the U.S. and E.U. in dealing with nanofood and the industry. This article also provides an assessment on the adequacy of those laws and identifies the possible gaps and weaknesses in them.

Introduction

In 2003, Nobel Laureate and nanotech entrepreneur Richard Smalley expressed his frustration with what he viewed as exaggerated concerns over the safety of nanotechnology and stated: “[a]fter all, we’re not advising that you eat nanotech stuff “. The reality is that “[a]bout the time Dr. Smalley was telling consumers not to worry, the nanotech market for food and food processing was estimated to be in excess of $2 billion and projected to surge to more than $20 billion by 20101. “Nanotechnology is moving out of the laboratory and into every sector of food production. Manufactured nanomaterials are already used in some food products, nutritional supplements, many packaging and food storage applications and some agriculture inputs”2. More will be entering the market.
* Professor of Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya, Malaysia. His research interests include Nanotechnology Law and Policy, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Law and Air and Space Law.
** Associate Professor of Law at the Faculty of Law, University Technology MARA, Malaysia. She has rescarched, published and presented papers on Nanotechnology Law and Policy and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Law.

1 ACTION GROUP ON EROSION, TECHNOLOGY AND CONCENTRATION, DOWN ON THE FARM: THE IMPACT  OF NANO-SCALE TECHNOLOGIES ON FOOD AND AGRICULTURE,
2 GEORGIA MILLER & DR.RYE SENJEN, FRIENDS OF THE EARTH, AUSTRALIA, EUROPE & U.S.A, OUT OF THE LABORATORY AND ON TO OUR PLATES, at 9 (2008), available at http://www.foeeurope.org/activities/nanotechnology/Documents/Nano_food_report.pdf.

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