Agriculture | Ecotrope

Zapping garden pests with nanotech? Not so fast, says the EPA.

Ecotrope | June 9, 2011 8:02 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:37 p.m.

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Nanotechnology is often hailed as the greatest technological advance since the chemical revolution. Super strong bike frames? Nano can do that. Odor-free socks? Nano does it. Disappearing sun screen? Nano’s the solution. But nanotech bug killer? Slow down, says the EPA in a press release today.

nanomolecules on graphene

nanomolecules on graphene

Nanotechnology- the technology that lets engineers manufacture materials 100,000 smaller than a human hair- hit the marketplace in a big way in the last five years. It holds amazing promise for everything from the creation of super-efficient solar panels to “nano-goo” that can clean up toxic waste. In it’s sweeping report on nanotechnology, the Natural Resources Defence Council claims that nanotechnology is already deployed in everyday products from mascara to tennis balls to baby wipes, with little regulation. In other words, this technological horse has long since left the barn.  So why is the EPA stepping in to regulate nanotechnology now? And on pesticides? Are they tiptoeing into  this new regulatory frontier by going after low hanging fruit? And if EPA is concerned about bug killers, should they also look at the host of other everyday products that now contain nanomaterials?

The EPA says they “will gather information on what nanoscale materials are present in pesticide products to determine whether the registration of a pesticide may cause unreasonable adverse effects on the environment and human health.” They follow with a reassurance to industry ,“The agency will continue to encourage responsible and innovative development of products containing nanoscale materials….”

Here’s a primer on nanotechnology from the folks at KQED:

QUEST on KQED Public Media.

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