Nanotechnology, the science which allows scientists to manipulate individual atoms and molecules, is in the news almost daily for its breakthrough developments improving our modern world. The latest announcement is that the pharmaceutical industry plans to encode all drugs, pills, tablets and capsules with a bar code, showing the origin, brand and content of the drug. It will provide a tracking and identification system of the drugs swallowed by millions of people every day, and this information will be able to be read by technicians as it is stored within our bodies. It sounds like a science fiction movie plot, but it could be far more sinister.

The molecular barcode which stores the information will, during digestion, be distributed around the body and may become lodged in the body's tissue. Medical technicians will be able to read this data and use it to "defend against pharmaceutical counterfeiting and illegal diversion" which will enable large pharmaceutical companies to protect their exclusive period of patent from other companies counterfeiting their patented drugs. No problem so far.

However reader technicians will also theoretically be able to track what drugs you took in the past. Again this can be used for good or bad purposes. For example it could scan patients to see whether they have taken their meds for the day or even for the year. However the information could be used against you to deny you health insurance coverage, to serve as evidence against you in a court of law, to remove children away from parents deemed "unstable" or to force you to take vaccines which you want to avoid for personal reasons. In short, this technology would make your private medication instantly available to "Big Brother", destroying health freedom.

There is another concern about this advancement in the use of nanotechnology in food and drugs. Nanotechnology works by deconstructing the basic building blocks of materials and making completely new ones. It is assumed that as the original molecules are harmless, then rearranging them will also be harmless. However studies have shown that nanoparticles behave differently in the body than the materials from which they were derived. Scientists from the University of California found in 2007 that although iron is a necessary mineral for our body, the iron nanoparticles are toxic to nerve cells and nerve function.

Nanoparticles are everywhere in our modern world – in packaging, containers and even in our food. However it is still a giant experiment and only time will tell whether it is good thing or whether it may prove detrimental to our future health.

Author's Bio: 

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