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Nanotechnology Could Hurt Small-Scale Farmers

Despite the many benefits of nanotechnology on electronics, medicines, and foods, a non-government organization is now seeing the pains such technology could bring.

In the field of nano agriculture, it is believed that it could hurt small-scale farmers who supply the world with small-scale raw materials.

ETC Group or the Action Group on Erosion, Technology, and Concentration executive director Pat Mooney, in his briefing with members of the Davao media, Mooney shared the impacts it could cause the world especially those in the Third World.

With the advent of nanotechnology or the manipulation of matter at the level of atoms and molecules, ETC has seen how such technology would change every step of the food chain as well as the people involved in the process.

Mooney explained that the highly-developed countries lead the world market, however, they still recognize and get raw materials from other countries like the Third World.

But with nanotechnology, where the power and manipulation is at the hands of the scientifically-advanced, the group is seeing a rapid change in the world's economy.

The expert disclosed Kraft Foods' move of coming up with a product that would automatically change clear water to any kind of drink like soda, coffee, or tea in just a matter of click on the microwave machine.

"This product will soon flood the grocery stores and would eventually kill all other beverage products as well as the farmers who provide the raw materials," he said.

ETC is now mindful on the world's $3 trillion food retail market, agricultural export markets valued at $544 billion, and the livelihood of some 2.6 billion farming people.

It is believed that the poor and marginalized are seldom in a position to foresee or adjust quickly to abrupt economic changes.

"Among the most vulnerable will be small-scale farmers and agricultural workers who produce raw commodity exports in the developing world.

Mooney visited Philippines to talk to different sectors in the community and share vital information needed by the public to prepare them for the big changes in the world market.

In the field of nano-foods, huge companies have started to invest on their research department to explore nano-scales by enhancing the taste and adding health benefits without having to add production cost.

An example cited is a beverage that claims no sugar in it but actually adds an enzyme that is capable in blocking some bitter taste buds.

He urged the government to share these information to the Filipino people and let them start preparing for the coming changes.

"The technology is moving so fast and yet our policymakers are so left behind. The people deserve to know all these," he said.

The world now estimates about 800 manufacturer-identified consumer products that use nanotechnology. These are already being sold in the world market in the absence of regulation and monitoring.

Data showed that the nanotech market for food and processing alone is estimated to be in excess of $2 billion and projected to surge to more than $20 billion by 2010. (PIA)

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