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NANOTECHNOLOGY IN THE FOOD CHAIN - Favv

NANOTECHNOLOGY IN THE FOOD CHAIN - Favv

THEME

THEME 5: COMMUNICATION, PERCEPTION & PARTICIPATION OF THE CONSUMER George Gaskell London School of Economics (LSE), Houghton Street, London, UK. E-mail: g.gaskell@lse.ac.uk Introduction Although potential applications of nanotechnology in food packaging and food additives have been discussed, as yet, there is relatively little systematic research on public perceptions of the use of nano- particles in the food chain. The current situation is well summarized in the NanoBio-Raise Report (“Nanotechnology and Food”) 3 . “there is a huge lack of knowledge among the general public about nanotechnology as such and food applications in particular. Therefore there is a need for genuine public dialogue to hopefully avoid another GM-type situation developing. The seriousness was demonstrated by two “publifocus” conferences involving consumers where several applications of nanotechnology were discussed including food applications held in Switzerland and in Germany at the end of 2006. The sixteen German consumers involved were positive about the opportunities for improved food safety by nano-based quality control but consider food applications of nano-ingredients a very sensitive area. The Swiss consumers were generally positive about nanotechnology but were most concerned about food applications. Both groups asked for labelling of nanocontaining products although there is a need to distinguish between “naturally occurring” molecules already present in food and artificially introduced manufactured nano-particles that are not. There is a clear mistrust of (food) 3 http://files.nanobio-raise.org/Downloads/Nanotechnology-and-Food-fullweb.pdf 77

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