Agriculture Nanotechnology: Early-Stage, but Growing
Summary posted by Meridian on 10/14/2011
Source: Nanotechnology Now
Author(s): Laura Faulconer
This article explores the nascent field of agriculture nanotechnology, defining the field as early-stage, but growing. Nanotechnology has been employed in agriculture for some time, in nanoclays, cyclodextrans and nanoemulsions. Research in the pharmaceutical industry involving nano-enabled targeted delivery, controlled release and/or transfection platforms, all of which are seeing an explosion in research, development and commercialization, represents a significant opportunity for cross-fertilization into the agriculture industry, according to this article. There is a great need to increase agricultural production on limited arable land and water supply, and nanotechnology could have a significant impact in addressing these issues. The paper identifies several white spaces where nanotechnology could help: “Reduction of spray drift with aerodynamic nanoparticles for optimized deposition; Controlled release for season-long treatment; More efficient formulations with reduction in dose required to achieve the desired effect; Combination of multiple previously incompatible actives into a single treatment; Advanced delivery systems of pesticides, herbicides, antimicrobials, fertilizers, etc.; Seed treatments to improve plant health and stress resistance; Encapsulation of toxic compounds to minimize occupational exposures; and, Improved rain fastness, photoprotection and reduced run-off.” According to Mark Zetter, Global Director of Actives to Products R&D at Dow AgroSciences, “Nanotechnology is still exploratory, but nano is definitely going to have a place in the agricultural industry.” The challenges to the sector include regulatory uncertainty and environmental impact testing that has not yet reached industry-standard methodology.
The original article may still be available at http://www.nanotech-now.com/news.cgi?story_id=43620