Despite sometimes startling advances in agriculture in the last couple of decades, science's understanding of the impact of our increased use of engineered nanomaterials on edible crops remains spotty. That can partly be explained by the fact that this remains a relatively new field of study.
But that doesn't mean people aren't anxious for answers. Indeed, the increased use of nanoparticles in growing crops has generated controversy and raised questions about their possible impact on human health. So it was that researchers at the University of Texas at El Paso sifted through the existing scientific literature on the impact of nanoparticles on edible plants - nearly 100 scientific articles in all. As might be expected, their conclusion was that scientific knowledge of plant toxicity of nanomaterials still remains "at the foundation stage."
It may surprise critics of so-called "frankenfoods" that more studies show "positive or no consequential effects" in plants exposed to nanoparticles. However, that doesn't mean it's a clean slate. In the following slide show, we've included a rundown of what the current literature says about how exposure to nanoparticles affects other edible plants. We should note that the build-up of nanoparticles was tied to plant type as well as to nanoparticle size and chemical composition. You can find the text of the full report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.