Nanosensors will be able to store and transfer even greater amounts of information than RFID chips. As with RFID, not only will pallets be trackable, but individual items can be tracked, followed and monitored from the production facility to the warehouse to the store and ultimately to the consumer.
Just as RFID caught the attention of privacy advocates and forced major retailers to revisit their strategy of employing these devices, nanosensors and nanotechnology, in general, is increasingly becoming a topic of concern.
A number of organizations, especially environmental groups, are expressing concerns about nanotechnology’s impact on both the environment and human health.
Most of the groups are calling for significant regulatory oversight; however a few are taking a more strident position and seek an outright ban on nanotechnology.
And just as the regulatory and public relations battles that erupted over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and BGH (bovine growth hormone) have shown that the alteration of food products strikes a very sensitive cord in a sizeable portion of the population, industries or businesses that are considering employing nanotechnology can expect to confront similar issues.
The U.S. government is aware of these concerns and is making a significant investment in these issues. The new National Nanotechnology Initiative has identified this area as a priority and has established the Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology Research at Rice University in Houston to proactively explore these issues and identify options for how government and industry might want to regulate nanotechnology.
If nanotechnology is proven to be safe, and experts are optimistic that it will, there is a real possibility that in the near future nanotechnology will not just be a topic to read about on the back of cereal boxes, it will be in the packaging and even the product itself.