Thursday, September 07, 2006

Exploring uncharted territory: Nano in food and agriculture

The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies – a partnership between the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Pew Charitable Trusts – just released their latest report on “Nanotechnology in agriculture and food production.” It provides a first, albeit somewhat speculative outlook on the future of nano applications in agriculture and food production.

“The goal of this report is to look upstream in order to develop an early understanding about what is on the nano agrifood horizon,” said Dr. Kuzma. “In its current form, the report and data only scratches the surface of potential applications. Nonetheless, it is sufficiently informative to serve as a starting point for a more in-depth dialogue among consumers, business, and government about the near-and long-term uses of and safeguards for nanotechnology in food and agriculture. Particularly, it provides an early guidepost to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, and Food & Drug Administration.”

The report also provides a good first overview of the different available data sources on funding and research. I’ve posted two figures below dealing with USDA research areas and funding by major agencies:

USDA Research Areas for Agrifood Nanotechnology Projects

EPA, USDA, and NSF Funding for Agrifood Nanotechnology, 2000-2005

(Click here for a copy of the full report, co-authored by Jennifer Kuzma and Peter VerHage.)