Nanotechnology in Agriculture
and Food Technology
Food and Agriculture
From fish to fungus, trees to
turnips, potatoes to paper, green
related to the raising of plants and
animals to produce food, feed,
fiber or fuel) is about more than
pesticides and genetic
How can small science have
such a big impact?
How can small science have
such a big impact?
How Big Is Nano?
This is one
Where is Nanoscience in
Agriculture and Food Science?
image from : http://members.ift.org/NR/rdonlyres/5F641E00-290A-4EB0-93D7-C02171FF5D17/0/1203moraru.pdf
Areas of Nanoscience Research
in Agriculture and Food Science
1. Pathogen, (something that can cause
a disease), and contaminant detection
2. Tracking crops and products
3. Nanodevices for molecular and cell biology
4. Nanoscale materials science and engineering
5. Environmental issues and agricultural waste
6. Educating the public and future workforce
On the next few pages we‘ll look at
nanoscience research in some of
1. Pathogen and
Or sensors which can slow
decomposition and detect
pathogens before your nose
Imagine using nanotechnology to
create self-healing materials or
coatings that can modify
agricultural materials or
packaging to prevent microbial
Eat ‗em Up, Then…
The tiny pathogens (germs) get confused and
bind to the particles instead of real cells, then
―flush‖ - out they go through the digestive
system—keeping chickens safer and healthier
for human consumption.
If it works on chickens, who‘s next?
experimenting with new
nanoparticles to keep
chickens healthy. Nano
particles are added to feed
and mimic cell surfaces
inside the chicken.
On the other hand,
scientists are working
on a simple inexpensive
hand-held instrument that can
detect bacteria in 15 minutes
2. Tracking Crops and
quality, taste and
scientists are eager
to develop nanosized
enable users to
locate precisely the
origin of agricultural
In the wake of widespread
food poisoning scares in
spinach, tomatoes, cilantro,
3. Nanoscience in Molecular
and Cell Biology
Develop surfaces that select, reject
or bond to molecules based on
Nanotechnology is making revolutionary
changes within cells which will improve
agriculture and the food industry in amazing
Develop better soil additives,
fertilizers, pesticides, and soil
Explore more efficient
methods of molecular
molecules for industrial
Healthy, Yet Tasty,
• By using water instead of oil in foods to
Wow! I‘m really interested in that
•And creating textures that feel like high
fat foods in your mouth.
With the help of nanoscience,
some foods might be taken off
of the ‗no-no‘ list:
Mask unwanted odors
Let‘s Have Some Ice Cream!
Not only is
allowing oil to be
replaced by water to
make foods, like ice
cream, healthier. It is
also developing low fat
ice creams by
decreasing the size of
the emulsion particles
that give ice-cream its
texture. Using up to 90%
less of the emulsion and
decrease fat content
from 16% to about 1%!
Eat Less, Gain More…
Some food and beverage products utilize
nanosized-encapsulation to make the
nutrients more easily absorbed by the
organism (increase uptake).
Save Energy, Last Longer
Nanoscience can reduce oil use in all types of
restaurants, including all fast food
establishments, by half. As a result of the large
surface area at the nanoscale, it can extend the
useful life span of the oil and it heats up more
quickly which reduces the energy required for
4. Nanoscale Materials Science and Engineering
Conducting research to better understand the
mechanics of nanomaterials such as self-
assembly, like the self-assembled capsule on the
Engineering and materials
science at the nanoscale is
also improving agriculture
and the food industry:
Developing nanomaterials using DNA
as a building block, like DNA
hybrids, bioseparation and biofilms.
5. Environmental Issues
and Agricultural Waste
Understanding the role of nanoparticles
(inorganic and organic) in the movement
and uptake of nutrients and pollutants;
And the movement and toxicity
of nanoparticles in agricultural
pollution (dust, feedlot runoff);
Reducing or converting animal
or plant waste into useful products.
Agriculture is utilizing
nanotechnology as it works
toward the following solutions:
Nanoscience is also helping
agriculture and the food industry
reduce emissions from production
Nanoscience Reducing Waste
role of nanoparticles
in the global carbon
Designing and developing reusable
nanomaterials, such as
nanocatalysts, that help reduce waste
Understanding the role of
nanoparticles in soil‘s
More Nanoscience Help for
Create ammonia needed in
Create artificial iron in water.
Prevent erosion with soil
binders that hold soils together.
Clean soils using
water that clean the
soil as they pass
Fewer Pesticides With
In the near future nanostructured
catalysts will be available which will
increase the efficiency of pesticides
and herbicides, allowing lower doses
to be used.
Did We Mention?
And improve germination. Read
more about it by clicking here.
Materials science and
engineering also uses
Another Kind of Agriculture
Going to the Nano-Market
– $2.6 billion 2004
– $7.0 billion 2006
– Projected $20.4 billion 2010
Helmut Kaiser Consultancy NWFPA 2007 Expo, Portland OR
200 companies are currently
engaged in nanoproduction, but
only a handful of nano food
products are market-available
now. I wonder what nano food
will be on your plate first?
6. Yummy AND
Nanotechnology can provide foods that
look and taste better, are more nutritious
and safer than what we eat
today. Nanoscience is also working to
Educate the public,
Develop regulations to manage and
monitor nanotechnology developments in
the food industry.
Social, Environmental and Ethical
1. Might these nanotechnology developments in
agriculture and food technology infringe on human
2. Could any of them decrease privacy of individuals?
3. Could the use of nanotechnology for agriculture
have unwanted and negative environmental effects?
4. What economic impact could the use of
nanotechnology in agriculture have on farmers,
consumers, and other industries? Might they be
negative or positive?
What About Your Rights?
If so, are these developments
more important than
•Your rights as a citizen?
•Your rights as a human being?
Are the answers somewhere in between?
To prepare for your
these questions using
which can include the
websites linked to this
1. What can be done to
maximize the chances that
humans will benefit from,
rather than be harmed by
these new developments?
2. If we can develop these
technologies, should we?
These are websites which are a good place to start in
looking for more information on nanotechnology in the
agriculture. You may also wish to use the general website
page linked at the bottom of this page. It is full of
nanotechnology sites related to multiple areas including
yours. After exhausting these resources you may also
wish to use your search engine and appropriate key words
and phrases to find more information.
General Nanoscience Links
If you would like help breaking down
your research into steps, click on the
help button for an outline.
http://www.nanotechproject.org/index.php?id=44&action=view&product_id=1290 http://nanotechwire.com/news.asp?nid=4556 http://www.azonano.com/details.asp?ArticleID=1316 ‘Down on the
Farm: the Impact of Nano-Scale Technologies on Food and Agriculture’, ETC Group Report, November
2004. http://www.azonano.com/details.asp?ArticleID=1315http://www.azonano.com/Industries.asp http://www.nanotechforest.org/dwnlds/Nano%20Workshop_Nano-
and Engineering 2003 Reportimage: http://nanopedia.case.edu/NWPage.php?page=nanoagriculture
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