Printer Friendly

Nutritional science and food politics.

1. Introduction

Frewer and Fischer observe that consumer choice is an important concept in food selection by consumers. Chaudhry and Groves emphasize that the new technologies have a great potential to address many of the food industry's current needs. Paarlberg remarks that the conduct of food politics remains persistently local: most food is consumed in the same country where it is produced. The politically managed and nonglobalized quality of most food systems is visible in nutritional outcomes.

2. Nutritional Science and Personalized Nutrition

Lau et al. hold that nutritional genomics has emerged as a result of the genomic revolution, including nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics. Bioactive food components may disrupt cellular pathways through alteration of gene expression. A wide variety of bioactive food components can influence the expression of genes leading to altered biological processes. Lau et al. write that nutritional proteomics has the potential to rapidly generate new knowledge pertaining to the complex interplay of nutrition-protein regulation. Nutritional genomics aims to personalize diets based on individual needs for the maintenance of health and prevention of diseases. (1)

Chadwick maintains that the majority of discussion about personalization has taken place in relation to pharmaceuticals. Medicine has always been personalized in the sense of the application of professional judgment to the individual case. Marketing foods in terms of their enhancing advantage may prove to be a beneficial marketing device. Strategies that attempt to change behavior are faced with particular difficulties in the case of food. Personalization can serve the ends of putting responsibility for health on the shoulders of individual consumers who decide what to buy and literally consume. Chadwick contends that overall diet gets short shrift in contemporary food safety legislation. Novel foods are examined for safety but not for efficacy. Advice will be ethical if the information is accurate and the advice giver has the authority appropriate to the context. Claims of responsibility for one's own health are challenged by claims of a genetic determinist sort. (2)

Bagchi et al. observe that obesity has rapidly grown into a global epidemic. Increased food consumption combined with lack of exercise seem to be the major factors contributing to the obesity epidemic. Bagchi et al. focus on the potential molecular mechanisms underlying the observed beneficial effects of the two supplements as elucidated by state-of-the-art nutrigenomic technologies. Bagchi et al. insist on the application of nutrigenomics to evaluating weight management supplements, discussing the effect of these supplements on gene-expression patterns using the high-throughput transcriptomics technology. Nutritional science has gradually shifted toward personalized nutrition. Nutrigenomics utilizes the powerful technology to study the effect of nutrients or dietary components on the structure, integrity, and function of the genome. Bagchi et al. affirm that nutratherapeutics combined with a healthy lifestyle may be the most cost-effective and natural way to combat this crisis (it is possible to use the powerful tool of nutrigenomics to delineate the molecular basis for the observed beneficial effects of dietary supplements). (3) Kohsuke and Hayamizu remark that the wealth of genomic information, genomics-based technologies, and model systems available are being used to study the molecular basis of the interaction of individual food constituents with both the genome and the metabolism of the human consumer. Protein interaction information is essential for systems-level understanding of cellular behavior. (4)

3. Food Irradiation and Consumer Attitudes towards Nanotechnology

Arvanitoyannis and Tsarouhas assert that irradiation of packaging materials generally leads to the formation of free radicals and ions. The use of irradiation has become a standard treatment to sterilize packages in aseptic processing of foods and pharmaceuticals. (5) Arvanitoyannis remarks that irradiation is one of the successful techniques to preserve food with minimum change to the functional, nutritional, and sensory properties of food products. Food irradiation is the process of exposing food to a controlled source of ionizing radiation. Availability of detection methods for irradiated foods would improve standard regulatory procedures. Arvanitoyannis insists that the changes that occur in irradiated foodstuffs are generally similar to those produced by classic food treatment processes (heating and freezing) or natural spoilage (autoxidation). (6)

Arvanitoyannis and Dionisopoulou point out that estimation and control of microbiological hazards presented by foods are less beset by the problems of inaccuracy that exist in relation to adverse effects from chemical in foods. Irradiated food produced in accordance with established good manufacturing practice (GMP) is safe because the process of irradiation does not lead to changes in the composition of the food that would have an adverse effect on human health. Quantitative risk analysis is a stepwise analysis of hazards that may be associated with a particular type of food product. In Arvanitoyannis and Dionisopoulou's view, measurements of environmental radio activity and associated assessments are often based on the average bulk mass or surface concentration. Risk assessments should be based on the best available science. Risk analysis is a process of identifying the potential for possible harm to occur to a particular set of assets or processes and determining the impact. The social experience of risk includes the perception of actual damage. (7)

Frewer and Fischer suggest that factors that are not explicitly addressed as part of technical risk estimates may influence the perception of a given risk. The behaviour of consumers in relation to food safety issues can be properly understood if there is a systematic understanding of the way in which consumers perceive risks. For novel foods to be accepted, consumers must perceive that any potential benefits outweigh potential risks or negative effects. Frewer and Fischer argue that consumer perceptions associated with the introduction of novel food technologies are characterised by a range of specific perceptions. The agri-food sector may be potentially vulnerable to consumer concerns associated with the introduction of novel technologies. Consumers may subconsciously "reject" novel foods because they are not the products they normally purchase. Inducing specific emotions in the course of risk communication may facilitate successful processing of information. Individuals have increasing access to different sources of information about a potentially controversial topic. Frewer and Fischer stress that people hold a very weak attitude towards nanotechnology applied to food production. Consumer attitudes towards nanotechnology may be influenced by the way in which the technology is introduced into society, as well as the effectiveness of the associated communication strategies. The traditional emphasis on risk communication may be less relevant to consumer decision-making. Targeted information provision needs to be developed which meets the needs of different groups of consumers. (8)

Chaudhry and Groves hold that a naturally occurring or synthetic nanomaterial that is not bio-persistent is not likely to pose any different health risk than the conventional bulk equivalent. Many food substances exist naturally, or are metabolised in the body at a nanoscale. The processing of foods at the nanoscale would simply improve the speed or efficiency of their digestion, uptake, bioavailability and metabolism in the body. Chaudhry and Groves conclude that nanoscale processing of foods may alter how the food ingredients "behave" upon breakdown within the gut. Passage of particles through enterocytes takes place after foodstuffs have been digested into their constituents. (9)

4. Monopoly Power in the Food Manufacturing Industry

Paarlberg contends that food production in Africa today is far less than the known potential for the region. Africa is failing to keep up with population growth because too little has been invested in developing its potential. Food production fails to keep up because nobody invests to make farms more productive. Most governments around the world limit and manage their food imports for the purpose of stabilizing domestic prices. Paarlberg states that the best way to judge the magnitude of the crisis is to measure actual hunger (most of the world's genuinely hungry people do not get their food from the world market). A growing hunger count does not necessarily mean higher hunger prevalence. Many governments have tried to maintain systems to subsidize food purchase in urban areas. Increasing the productivity of farm labor typically requires the introduction of new technologies and government investment in basic rural public goods such as roads and electricity. Governments are sometimes tempted to seek a coercive advantage by manipulating the volume and timing of their food exports. Paarlberg explains that markets for food tend to provide little coercive leverage to big exporters. The greatest competition in international food markets is usually between exporters. Governments in poor developing countries provide much less subsidy support to agriculture (policies in poor countries tend to be urban biased). Farm subsidies are almost never targeted to small farmers or to those in greatest need.

Paarlberg reasons that compartmentalized and localized systems tend to be less able to afford state-of-the-art technical options for food supply protection. GMO foods and crops approved by regulators have so far presented no new scientifically documented risks. International governance in the area of food and farming remains weak because national governmental institutions play a dominating role in both rich and poor countries. Food and farming systems are built heavily around immobile assets, such as agricultural land and irrigation water, and tend to remain nonglobalized because of differing agroclimatic conditions across world regions. (10)

5. Conclusions

Frewer and Fischer notice that people tend to be more accepting of emerging technologies that are applied in the pharmacology and medical sectors than in the food sector. Chaudhry and Groves claim that nanotechnologies are promising to revolutionise the food sector. An increasing number of products and applications is likely to be available in the future to consumers worldwide. Nanofood products will be increasingly available on the markets worldwide in the coming years. Paarlberg points out that food systems and farming systems remain significantly separate and distinct. Most policy success or failure in the food and farming sectors takes place nationally or locally.


(1.) Lau, F.C. et al. (2010), "Recent Advances in Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods," in Bagchi, D. et al. (eds.), Genomics, Proteomics, and Metabolomics in Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods. Hoboken, NJ: BlackwellWiley, 3-10.

(2.) Chadwick, R. (2010), "Nutrigenomics and Statistical Power: The Ethics of Genetically Informed Nutritional Advice," [1], 23-34.

(3.) Bagchi, D. et al. (2010), "Genomics in Weight Loss Nutraceuticals," [1], 45-60.

(4.) Hayamizu, K. and Manji, A. (2010), "Application of Genomics and Bioinformatics Analysis in Exploratory Study of Functional Food," 61-73.

(5.) Arvanitoyannis, I.S. and Tsarouhas, P. (2010), "Food Packaging Materials for Irradiation," Arvanitoyannis, I.S. (ed.), Irradiation of Food Commodities: Techniques, Applications, Detection, Legislation, Safety and Consumer Opinion. Academic Press/Elsevier: London-Burlington, MA-San Diego, CA, 43-66.

(6.) Arvanitoyannis, I.S. (2010), "Irradiation Detection," [5], 67-140.

(7.) Arvanitoyannis, I.S. and Dionisopoulou, N.K. (2010), "Risk Assessment of Irradiated Foods," [5], 141-170.

(8.) Frewer, L. and Fischer, A. (2010), "The Evolution of Food Technology, Novel Foods, and the Psychology of Novel Food 'Acceptance'," Chaudhry, Q. et al. (eds.), Nanotechnologies in Food. Cambridge: RSC Publishing, 18-35.

(9.) Chaudhry, Q. and Groves, K. (2010), "Nanotechnology Applications for Food Ingredients, Additives and Supplements," [8], 69-85.

(10.) Paarlberg, R.L. (2010), Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford: Oxford University Press.





University of Craiova
COPYRIGHT 2010 Addleton Academic Publishers
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Sperdea, Natalita Maria; Mangra, Madalina Giorgiana; Docea, Valentina; Cojocaru, Constantin
Publication:Economics, Management, and Financial Markets
Date:Jun 1, 2010
Previous Article:Media concentration, digital communication networks, and the impact of new media on the news environment.
Next Article:The role of financial globalization in the changing governance practices.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters