EVIDENCE FROM CHINA
There is no systematic reporting system in China
about nanotechnology in the food sector and thus information is
What are the main potential applications and benefits
of nanotechnologies and nanomaterials in the food sector, either
in products or in the food production process?
Nanotechnology within the food production chain
is used in agricultural cultivation, food processing and manufacturing,
animal feed, additives, supplements, and food packaging.
What is the current state of the market for, and
the use of, food products and food production processes involving
nanotechnologies or nanomaterials, in China?
The field of food nanotechnology has experienced
significant growth over the last five years in China. There is
no statistical data available on the level of use but it is widespread.
What might the "next-generation" of
nanotechnologies and nanomaterials look like? How might they be
applied in the food sector, and when might they enter the market?
It is still not clear what the next generation
of nanotechnologies will look like but we would expect them to
enter the market and quickly spread throughout all phases of agro-food
What is the current state of research and development
in China regarding nanotechnologies and nanomaterials which have
or may have an application within the food sector? How does it
compare to research and development in other countries?
R&D on nanotechnologies is quite advanced
and is comparable to other countries. Focus is not in the food
sector directly but other sectors such as antimicrobial nano-kitchenware,
food packaging, sun screen, cosmetics, textiles, etc.
What are the barriers to the development of new
nano-products or processes in the food sector?
Safety issues and acceptance by the public are
key barriers to the development of new nano-products or processes
in the food sector. A current concern is that there is too little
information available on the properties of nanoparticles and their
potential impact such as how the body motabilises nanoparticles
because of their varying size and high mobility. There is also
no requirement for manufacturers to label nanoparticles on their
products, and consumers are unlikely to be aware of such applications
Is the regulatory framework for nanotechnologies
and nanomaterials fit for purpose? How well are imported food
products containing nanotechnologies and nanomaterials regulated?
The current regulatory framework for nanotechnologies
and nanomaterials is inadequate in China though recent general
legislation on food safety should help plug some gaps. Many imported
food products to China are not properly inspected and domestic
standards from the country of origin are not always available
How effective is voluntary self-regulation at
an international level? What is the take up by companies working
in the food sector?
Food nanotechnology is an emerging field and
good regulation is a critical issue. Self-regulation in China
is difficult to measure but is likely to be focused on food safety.
If the nanoparticles are shown to be safe then that could be the
end of any self-regulation by a company. Take up by companies
is unknown but probably widespread.
Will current regulations be able adequately to
control the next generation of nanotechnologies and nanomaterials?
In China, the answer is no. The current regulatory
system does not require manufacturers to label whether nanoparticles
are present in their product. Regulations are also not particularly
extensive in relation to the development and manufacture of nanoparticles.
Is there any inter-governmental co-operation on
regulations and standards? What lessons can be learned from regulatory
systems in other countries?
China is not presently having any specific discussions
about international regulation of nanotechnology in food products.