Ministry of Science and Technology releases Guidelines for the evaluation of the Nano-based Agri-Input and food products in India.
“Nanobiotechnology has the potential to improve agricultural systems through increase in plant productivity and better crop protection for meeting the changing needs and requirement of providing food to the growing population” Dr Harsh Vardhan said, speaking on the occasion.
“Compared to the bulk form of chemical inputs in crops, use of nano-nutrients can reduce nutrient run-off into ground and surface water and thus can reduce environmental pollution. Indian government departments and agencies have been supporting various programmes on nanotechnology”, he further added.
These guidelines are aimed at assisting the policymakers and regulator to frame effective policy and provisions for future novel innovations and products in the Agri-input and food sector of India. So as to ensure quality, safety and efficacy of the product.
The present guidelines apply to nano-Agri products, nano-Agri input products (NAIPs), nanocomposites and sensors made from NMs and those in direct contact with the crops, food and feed for data acquisitions.
WHAT IS NANOTECHNOLOGY
Nanotechnology is studying and manipulation of the matter on the atomic or molecular level for the fabrication of the macro-scale products. Nanotechnology shows a promising future in improving conventional agricultural practices and food processing. Eventually leading to sustainability.
NANOTECHNOLOGY LEADING SUSTAINABILITY IN AGRI AND FOOD SECTOR
Nanotechnology has wide application in improving the agriculture and food sector with novel innovations for controlling rapid disease diagnostic, enhancing plants capacity to absorb nutrients, nano-fertilizers, etc. Sensors based on nano detection technology such as biosensors, electrochemical sensors, optical sensor can be implemented so as to increase productivity and strive towards sustainability. These sensors spread across the fields can collect detailed and precise data about the soil as well as crops. They can monitor the presence of the diseases in the crops, nutrient availability in the soil, moisture present in the soil, precise distribution of the water, fertilizers and pesticides.
Nanotechnology food sector application includes smart packaging, on-demand preservation and interactive foods allowing the consumer to modify/personalise food based on the nutritional requirements and taste. The nano-composite coating process can improve packaging by placing the antimicrobial agents on the surface of the coated film. Nano-composites can increase or decrease the gas permeability and lower the oxygen transmission rate. Further research being performed on the application of nanotechnology in the detection of chemical and biochemical substances in food for sensing biochemical changes occurring in the food.
Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur have synthetically engineered nanoparticle comprising iron and sulphur (Nano iron pyrite) to pump up the crop productivity. This nanoparticle is 1000 times smaller than that of the human hair. The engineered nanoparticle is modelled on the natural ones that sustain life underwater at the bottom of the ocean. Pyrite nanoparticles from the hydrothermal vents are a rich source of iron at the bottom of the ocean, bacteria and the plants living in the deep sea utilise this iron for their survival.
Hence, this step forward by the government would surely be a boon for the Food and Agricultural sector, leading toward increased safety, quality and sustainability.
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