Okay, exhale. I’m writing today about a topic that really concerns me, and if you’re one of the people who’ve come to my blog to read about nanotechnology used in baby diapers, then I’m sure you’ll be aghast to learn of controversial nanotechnology in baby formula. Yes, you read that correctly. The Friends of the Earth recently (as in today) published a report which discusses how popular baby formula has nanotechnology in them, and no, it isn’t labeled. THIS IS NOT GOOD. I am a blogger looking to spread good, accurate information, and this is a sponsored post, which is helping to bring awareness to this topic.
Basics of Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology basically means really small, the generally accepted definition is under 100nm in at least one dimension. The issue with these super small particles is that they can permeate cells (and that can be good, like targeting cancer cells), but is that what we want in infant food/formula/breastmilk alternatives? Okay before I get too deep, there’s a lot to cover here… and I don’t want to bore you. Nanotechnology falls partially under quantum physics. This is important to note because it often means that “we don’t know what happens next” – it can’t always be accurately predicted. Scientists from RAFI have known since at least 2002 that nanotechnology in food has problems, including their ability to penetrate living cells and accumulate in organs. WHAT?! A baby under the age of one… is that really something we need to be worrying about?
Friends of the Earth commissioned independent laboratory testing of baby formulas with a world-class nanotechnology research facility at the Arizona State University (ASU). The Paul Westerhoff team is highly regarded in the field and works directly with government and academia on the latest science pertaining to nanotechnology: https://engineering.asu.edu/lcnano/
What the Lab and FOE found
FOE tested 6 popular baby formulas. ALL of them included nanotechnology and none of them were labeled. Two (2) different types of nanoparticles were found, including:
● nano TiO2 (titanium dioxide) – Nano titanium dioxide is highly mobile in the body and has been detected in both humans and animals in the blood, liver and spleen. A 2015 study found that food grade TiO2 can be absorbed in the bloodstream. Studies show that titanium dioxide can damage DNA, disrupt the function of cells, interfere with the defence activities of immune cells and, by absorbing fragments of bacteria and ‘smuggling’ them across the gastrointestinal tract, can provoke inflammation. A study using pregnant mice found that nanoparticles of titanium dioxide were transferred from mother to offspring and was associated with brain damage, nerve system damage and reduced sperm production in male offspring.
● nano silica dioxide – Nano silica has been found in the livers of rats and mice after oral administration. In vitro studies show a significant percentage of the Nano silica remains undissolved and that “the presence of undissolved Nano silica particles in the gut in vivo is considered likely”. Animal studies have shown placental transfer and fetal uptake of silica. Scientists have warned that the enhanced sensitivity of the foetus may mean that even low doses of nanomaterials may cause adverse effects.
The FDA does not regulate nanotechnology in food, including baby formula. Technology is good – many things are created and solved because of technology, but there’s no proven benefits to using nanotechnology in baby food, and there are risks. Where there are risks, and infants are involved, shouldn’t we be cautious and encourage the use of tested and trusted food items before we include nanotechnology in infant formula?
(You can read more in this FOE publication about Tiny Ingredients, Big Risks)
Specifically, it should be noted that nanotechnology in food:
- can be more chemically reactive and more bioactive than larger particles of the same chemicals.
- Due to their very small size, nanoparticles have been demonstrated to be more likely than larger particles to enter cells, tissues and organs (including crossing the blood-brain barrier)
- Greater bioavailability and greater bioactivity may introduce new toxicity risks.
In October of 2015, the European Union Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) provided evidence that nano-hydroxyapatite is potentially toxic, could be absorbed and enter cells and should not be used in cosmetics such as toothpaste, teeth whiteners, and mouth.
While not conclusively found in any formula brands, this is a potential issue, since it could potentially be used as an “iron supplement” we often see “iron deficiency” listed as a “reason to use” a specific breast milk substitute. Iron oxide nanoparticles have not been fully assessed for health. A 2009 study found that several types of iron nanoparticles were toxic to lung cells (Source here).
What should we do?
Sign the petition which asks Formula Makers to remove nanotechology from infant formula.
Join the Party, make noise for change.
What: Facebook Party
When: Thursday, May 19
Where: Mamavation Facebook Fan Page
Time: 6pm PDT/9pm EDT
RSVP: Click on the Facebook Event Page to RSVP
Giveaways for Friend of the Earth Facebook Party on 05/19
- $25 Whole Foods Gift Card, Dr. Bronners All-One Peppermint toothpaste, Goddess Gardens Organic facial sunscreen & everyday spray (1 winner)
- $50 Whole Foods Gift Cards, Dr. Bronners All-One Peppermint toothpaste, Goddess Gardens Organic facial sunscreen & everyday spray (5 winners)
- Grand Prize: $125 Whole Foods Gift Card, Dr. Bronners All-One Peppermint toothpaste, Goddess Gardens Organic facial sunscreen & everyday spray (1 winner)