NANOTECHNOLOGY: Regulatory measures

Regulatory measures

The study on the toxic effects of nanomaterials on plants is an upcoming area of research. The plants have a tendency to absorb non-essencial elements along with essential elements, which when accumulated above a threshold level may have lethal effect on non-tolerant species (Ke et al. 2001, Bondada et al. 2004, Arias et al. 2010). Once accumulated in the plant tissue these toxic elements can enter the food chain and ultimately the higher organisms. The large quantities of different engineered nanomaterials being produced for application in wide range of functions thus open up the possibility of inevitable release of a considerable amount of these nanomaterials into the environment which may accumulate at specific sites in the geo and hydrosphere (e.g. soils, groundwater and water bodies) or in the biosphere. Once released in the soil or water directly in the form of nano-based agricultural chemicals, accidental release, or indirectly through contamination, these nanomaterials can be easily accessible to plants (Rico et al. 2011).

Although it is very clear that nanotechnology has the potential to revolutionize the fields of medicine, security and manufacturing. Applications of nanotechnology in Agriculture are also evident. But the hard fact about nanoscale materials is that they can be far more toxic to the biological systems than their bulk forms. Therefore, the unforeseen impacts and consequences of nano-toxics released directly or indirectly in the ecosystem, on agriculture are to be given due attention. A comprehensive study of the interaction of nanomaterials with their surrounding environment is needed. Total lifecycle of the nanomaterials and products containing them is a matter of serious consideration and need attention of researcher, manufacturers, consumers and policy makers. Direct marketing

Worldwide, there are no clear regulations on production, use, labeling and disposal of nanoparticles and the products and materials that contain them, thus exacerbating potential human and environmental health and safety issues associated with nanotechnology (Bowman and Hodge 2007, Faunce 2008). Serious concerns regarding the benefits and risks associated with nanotechnology are being raised (Hood 2005). Some countries have increased funding for evaluating the interactions of manufactured nanoscale materials with biological systems, to address health and safety issues associated with nanotechnology and to develop appropriate policies (Roco 2003). There is need to develop separate comprehensive regulation mechanisms for nanotechnology to ensure its safe development and applications (Bowman and Fitzharris 2007). Further public interest and expectations should also be considered while shaping the development of nanotechnology (Bowman and Hodge 2006).

Organics is considered as a food stream that do not include synthetic chemicals, additives and genetically modified organisms for food production. Nanomaterials clearly fall into the category of synthetic chemicals. At least three organic standards, namely, Australian National Standards for Organic and Bio Dynamic Produce, of 1 July 2007, The UK Soil Association Standards of 2008, The Demeter Standard, the only international labeling and standards scheme, have already excluded nanotechnology (Paull and Kristen 2008, Paull 2011). The Soil Association was also the first to declare organic standards free from genetic engineering.

The possible applications of nanotechnology in agriculture include smart delivery systems for agrochemicals, nano-formulations for plant nutrient and pest management, biosensors for precision farming, nano-bioprocessing for agriculture waste management, nanofibres for genetic manipulation etc. At present, application of nanotechnology in agriculture is at its nascent stage. Exposure of plant cells to nanomaterials may result in altered plant gene expression and modification in associated biochemical pathways which ultimately affect plant growth and development. Similarly NPs also exhibit inhibitory effect against beneficial soil microflora. Therefore consequences of interactions of nanomaterials with plants and microorganisms should be highlighted in future studies. Besides, stringent regulation of different NPs entering the environment is necessary. Success of nanotechnology in agricultural advancement will largly depends on the ability of researchers, technology developers, national and international policy makers to address the different challenges in the coming years.

Nanotechnology Scope and Limitations in_decrypted-1

Table 1 : Effect of different nanoparticles (two concentrations) on growth of B. subtilis RP24 and P. putida P7 in terms

Tags: , , , ,