Expert study (2009)


Opportunities and risks of nanotechnology in the food sector 

The popular media are already carrying reports about “nanofood”, presenting on the one hand examples of products and futuristic scena­rios for nutrition, and on the other mentioning unforeseeable risks. The benefits, for instance, include health-promoting additives, and there is also talk of longer shelf-lives or new flavour varieties. Among the risks, the reports point to the still inadequately clarified effects these new types of substances might have on our health. The public have their doubts about these developments, as was shown by the publifocus events held by TA-SWISS in 2006.

Why conduct a TA-SWISS study on this subject? 

Experts in the field of food science are fin­ding that at present very little practical use is made of nanotechnology in food, although it is important in basic research. The industry is already spending huge sums on researching the relative potential. That is why there is an urgent need for some clarification of the issue, before any such products are marketed on a wide scale. The public reacts very sensitively to the way food is produced; the debate on genetic engineering showed this very clearly. An early, well-grounded investigation of nanotechnology in the field of nutrition should therefore help to generate an objective discussion.

Media information
More attractive, fresher, healthier −
thanks to nanopackaging and nanoadditives?

Press review
«Nano» auf dem Teller und in der Flasche, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 24.01.2009
Nanoteilchen in Lebensmitteln sind ungenügend reglementiert, Tages Anzeiger, 24.01.2009
Keine Deklaration für Nano-Lebensmittel, Der Bund, 24.01.2009
Des nanotechnologies dans nos assiettes, Le Temps, 24.01.2009

28.01.2009: les nanoparticules, Radio Suisse Romande


Project supported by

• Centre for Technology Assessment TA-SWISS
• Federal Office for Agriculture FOAG
• The Innovation Promotion Agency CTI

Project mandataries

• Dr Ulrike Eberle, Öko-Institut e.V. – Institute for Applied Ecology, Freiburg i.Br., Germany
• Martin Möller, Öko-Institut e.V. – Institute for Applied Ecology, Freiburg i.Br., Germany

Supervisory group

• Prof. Dr Ueli Aebi, Module manager «Nanobiology», Swiss Nanosciences Institute, Basel
• Dr Andreas Bachmann, Philosopher, Ethik im Diskurs GmbH, Zurich
• Dr Michael Beer, Food Safety Division, Federal Office of Public Health FOPH, Bern
• Natalie Bougeard, Scientific journalist, L’Hebdo, Lausanne
• PD Dr. Béatrice J. Conde-Petit, Corporate Development Bühler Management AG, Uzwil
• Dr Lutz End, R&D Formulation Nutrition, Fine Chemical Division, BASF AG, Ludwigshafen, Germany
• Ruth Genner, Food scientist, President of the Green Party
• Peter Gubser, Marketing Services, Migros-Genossenschaftsbund, Zurich
• Dr Beat Hodler, Föderation der Schweizerischen Nahrungsmittelindustrie (FIAL), Bern
• Alain Kaufmann, Director Nanopublic, Interface Sciences-Société, University of Lausanne
• Prof. Dr Harald Krug, Division Manager «Materials-Biology Interactions», EMPA, St Gall
• Dr Markus Lötscher, Federal Office for Agriculture FOAG, Bern
• Dr Thomas H. Meier, Foundation for Consumer Protection SKS, Bern
• Prof. Dr Peter Schurtenberger, Center for Nanomaterials, Physics department of the University of Fribourg
• Dr Christoph Studer, Industrial Chemicals Section, Substances, Soil, Biotechnology Division, Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), Bern
• Prof. Dr Jakob Tanner, Research Centre for Social and Economic History, University of Zurich
• Prof. Dr Erich Windhab, Institute for Food and Nutrition Science, ETH Zurich

TA-SWISS Project management

• Dr Adrian Rüegsegger, TA-SWISS, e-mail

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