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US invests in nanotechnology for food safety

By Oscar Rousseau , 01-Apr-2016

The USDA will invest in nanoscale science and technology to improve pathogen monitoring
The USDA will invest in nanoscale science and technology to improve pathogen monitoring

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced plans to pump millions into researching ways nanotechnology can be used to improve food safety.

In total, 11 universities in the US will receive a share of the $5.2m pledged by the USDA to develop new ways of uncovering foodborne pathogens – and thus improving overall food safety throughout the US supply chain.

Some of the ideas touted by the universities include using nanotechnology to develop advanced poultry vaccines.

The funds will be made through the USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative – a grants programme established to support advancements in agricultural science.

Improve resilience

In the seven years since the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative was established, the program has led to true innovations and groundbreaking discoveries in agriculture to combat childhood obesity, improve and sustain rural economic growth, address water availability issues, increase food production, find new sources of energy, mitigate the impacts of climate variability and enhance resiliency of our food systems, and ensure food safety,” said agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack.

Nanoscale science, engineering, and technology are key pieces of our investment in innovation to ensure an adequate and safe food supply for a growing global population. The President’s 2017 Budget calls for full funding of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, so that USDA can continue to support important projects like these.

One of the recipients of the research grant, Auburn University in Alabama, has said it plans to improve pathogen monitoring throughout the food supply chain by creating a user-friendly system that can detect multiple foodborne pathogens simultaneously.

The University of Wisconsin has planned to develop nanoparticle-based poultry vaccines to stem emerging poultry diseases.

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