Food for the Future: Meeting Challenges with Nuclear Applications

13 September 2012
People  all over the world are benefiting from nuclear techniques in food production, food protection and food safety - many of them aided directly by the IAEA's 200 food-related projects in around 100 countries worldwide. 'At the Agency's Seibersdorf Laboratories, I've learned new techniques for the rapid and highly accurate diagnosis of animal diseases. <br /><br />
I'll use the experience I've acquired here to train my fellow technicians in my home country, Uganda. <br /><br />
This way, I can use this training to improve the diagnostic capacity in the lab where I work.''Some of my cattle die every year from foot and mouth disease and this is a great financial loss. <br /><br />
But during a recent outbreak the vets came to my farm and collected samples from the sick animals for laboratory analysis. <br /><br /> 
They advised me on how to avoid the further spread of the disease and they gave me drugs to help heal the wounds.''The collaboration between LANAVET and the IAEA is excellent and very important for the farmers we assist.<br /><br />
 If we can diagnose a disease quickly with the techniques provided by the IAEA, we can stop it from spreading. <br /><br />
If it wasn't for the IAEA, we would have never reached the stage where we are now in the analysis and control of animal diseases.''We irradiate primarily to control insects in food, to extend the shelf life of products and to kill bacteria that could lead to food poisoning. <br /><br />
For us, food irradiation means food safety, food security and food quality, and it also enables us to export more food, so it's of economic importance too. We have many projects with the IAEA and we''been close partners for over 30 years.''This project is about improving the patient's nutritional status by eating sterile food. <br /><br />
I have breast cancer and after undergoing chemotherapy my body has become very weak. <br /><br />
I need better antibodies to make my immune system stronger and I hope to achieve this by eating this nutritional food.''At this lab we're using isotopic techniques to assess the impact of pesticide use on water quality. <br /><br />
In my project, we're concentrating on the effect of chemical residues on aquatic life and the food chain in general. <br /><br />
My main goal is to go back to Costa Rica to continue this research based on my experience here.''I think this technique is the only long term answer. <br /><br />
 It might seem expensive in the beginning, but if you explain how it works to the farmers, they will gladly accept it and even cover part of the costs. <br /><br />
As a fruit producer, I'm naturally interested in a healthy product, one that is free from fruit fly without the use of pesticides.''In some cases, like with fruit flies, the use of a method such as the sterile insect technique is the only accepted control measure that's environmentally friendly and sustainable.
<br /><br />Brazil is a major exporter of fresh fruit, and the use of this method opens new markets that otherwise would be closed to us because they have strict controls on pesticide use.''The purpose of my training was to assess the effects of gamma radiation on the carob moth, which damages fruit, dates and nuts. <br /><br />
We had to determine the dose needed to sterilize this pest. We evaluated the effects of radiation at every stage of the life cycle of this insect.<br /><br /> 
This study will help me develop an integrated pest management system in my country.''Mauritius is a tropical country with temperatures often exceeding 30 degrees, especially in summer. <br /><br />
The tomato is a summer crop and it's very sensitive to high temperatures. <br /><br />
At the IAEA, I worked on a project to find a heat tolerant tomato variety, by using nuclear energy to induce changes in the fruit.''Jordan is expected to have an increase in temperature and a reduction in rainfall. Breeding wheat and barley under such difficult conditions requires genetic variation. <br /><br />
 Inducing mutation by utilizing nuclear techniques will accelerate the creation of plants that have the required traits like resistance to certain pests, drought and salinity.''Centenario barley is very important here in the Andes.<br /><br />
 It has a better yield than other varieties, so it has improved my income considerably. <br /><br />
 It also tastes better and has more protein. We use barley for our own consumption. It's very nutritious and is especially important for the development of our children.''Drip irrigation is a new technology for us, and since it's been introduced here we can plant our own vegetables and don't have to depend on livestock alone.<br /><br />
  We can improve our children's nutrition and earn some income. We can use the money to pay school fees and to maintain the pump to get more water from the borehole.''I'm trying to acquire knowledge and skills in water management using drip irrigation and the neutron probe, 
which measures soil moisture levels.<br /><br /> 
In some parts of my country we have little rainfall and a soil moisture shortage.  So the farmers are getting poor harvest. <br /><br />
The knowledge gained here will be shared with my institute at the Ministry of Agriculture.''I'm here with five colleagues. We want to learn about the use of nuclear technology in soil and water management and crop nutrition. <br /><br />
  Back home, we will share this information with other people at the Ministry of Agriculture, where we work. <br /><br />
Isotope techniques will assist us in dealing with soil degradation caused by erosion, limited rainfall and drought.'
Last update: 16 October 2014