Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Seeds of Doubt Remain About Nanotechnology Use in Agriculture

By Melanie Kah

A new meta-analysis has attempted to give a scientific grounding to claims about the risks and benefits of nano-agrochemicals, but knowledge gaps remain.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Credit: Singkham/iStockphoto

According to the United Nations, the world’s population will reach 9.7 billion in 2050, so agricultural production will need to increase by 60% over 2005 levels to feed the world. This raises questions about how such an increase can be achieved by sustainable means with minimum impacts on the environment and human health. Research and innovation will be the key to help agriculture meet this challenge.

Nanotechnology aims to take advantage of new properties that materials develop at the nanoscale (1 nm is 10,000 times smaller than the thickness of a sheet of paper). A frequent objective of research into the agricultural applications of nanotechnology is to achieve a more efficient use of the resources applied in agriculture. For instance, a significant proportion of the pesticides and fertilisers currently applied in the field do not reach their target. Losses of these chemicals in the environment can...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.