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Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2006 10:04 pm

Let them eat nanoparticles

Yes, the food engineers are at it again


Thanksgiving Day is here — a day to gather with our families, rejoice in the bounty of God’s green earth, and sit down for a generous serving of home-cooked, old-fashioned, mouthwatering . . . nanoparticles?

Yes, welcome to the Brave New Thanksgiving. The white-smocked corporate food engineers are at it again, messing with Momma Nature. The same companies that brought artificial flavoring, chemical preservatives, trans fats, genetically modified organisms, synthetic hormones, and so many other industrial marvels to our dinner tables now hope we’ll let them add a nice big bunch of nanoparticles to the food mix.

Say what? Corporations are using nanotechnology to manipulate the very matter of things, including food additives and ingredients, creating new forms of matter that are unimaginably tiny.

Uh, OK. Why? Because they can, silly! Also, because they say nanotechnology can create novel food additives that, for example, can coat M&Ms to inhibit melting.

Uh, aren’t M&Ms supposed to melt? Well, yes, but . . . never mind, you wouldn’t understand.

Are there any, uh, you know, “problems” with this nano stuff? Well, there’ve been no thorough studies of how these newly engineered nanomaterials actually behave in the environment or in humans, especially when nanoparticles are eaten. But, hey, trust us!

Uh, no. First, the nanotechers do admit that there are some “novel” health risks involved — for example, lab tests show that some of these manmade nanoparticles are so tiny that they can easily slip through the barriers that prevent normal particles from entering our brains. Second, this is food they’re messing with, and there’s just no crying need to tamper with it so M&Ms don’t melt.

Instead of nanoparticles for Thanksgiving, let’s push to keep the American feast natural. To help, call the Organic Consumers Association at 218-226-4164.

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, columnist, and author.

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