A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) economist, writing in the Journal of Consumer Affairs, has reportedly cited the lack of a suitable definition for nanotechnology as an obstacle to the potential labeling of foods and packaging incorporating nanoparticles or materials. According to Jean Buzby, while the National Nanotechnology Initiative defines nanotechnology in terms of size, i.e., “dimensions between approximately 1 and 100nm,” this range “is an arbitrary measure and was not set on any real meaning or relationship between particle size and toxicological effects or kinetics, such as chemical reaction rates.” Buzby apparently opines that the technology’s potential benefits need to be communicated to the public and calls for increased funding for safety research.

In a related development, the Carolina Academic Press is reportedly poised to release a law school treatise on nanotechnology titled Nanotechnology Law and Policy Cases and Materials. Authored by Texas Tech University School of Law Professor Victoria Sutton, the book focuses on “the scope of nanotechnology as a science and as a commercialized application of science, and the legal, regulatory and policy aspects of this emerging technology.” The table of contents indicates that the book will cover international, federal, state, and local regulation, constitutional and intellectual property issues, as well as the few cases to date involving nanotechnology. See FoodNavigator-USA.com, February 9, 2011.