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FAO/WHO publish Report on 'Nanotech in Food and Agriculture' Meeting

A report recently published by both the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) documents the meeting they held earlier this year on 'Nanotechnologies in Food and Agriculture'. It shows that the co-ordinators aimed to discuss the ongoing development of nano activities relevant to the food and feed sectors, so that both the FAO and the WHO could understand 'the implications of such developments and the actions required'.

Presentations and round-table discussions focused on the evaluation of the safety of nanomaterials in food, with both the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Life Science Institute (ILSI) Europe demonstrating their views on the matter. Notably the FAO/WHO draft paper, State of the art on the initatives and activities relevant to risk assessment of nanotechnologies in the food and agriculture sectors, was unveiled to delegates at the meeting, as the organisers desired their input into the document.

According to the report, the two organisations decided that 'traditional toxicological assessment methods will not be realistic' for nanomaterials; nevertheless they were urged to 'continue their effort to develop a decision tree incorporating a tiered approach for the risk assessment of nanomaterials' regardless. Other conclusions were:

  • The need for the organisations to 'identify any relevant trade issues', so that 'when there is limited capacity and knowledge to deal with nanomaterials, trade-recipient countries should at least be informed of what they are receiving'
  • The FAO and the WHO should try to ensure that consumers in the developing world should 'have access to the benefits of nanotechnologies'
  • National authorities could be helped by the organisations 'to identify sustainable and effective monitoring systems'


Follow this link to read the full FAO/WHO meeting report, and this link toread the NIA's reporting on the draft FAO/WHO paper.

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