The IAEA laboratories are a unique feature in the United Nations. The nuclear applications laboratories in Seibersdorf focus on such issues as food and agriculture, human health, environmental monitoring and assessment, as well as the use of nuclear analytical instrumentation.
The Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/IAEA Division operates five of the eight laboratories in Seibersdorf:
Insect Pest Control Laboratory
Assists Member States in fighting selected key insect pests through the sterile insect technique, a mechanism of birth control applied to the target pest insect.
Animal Production and Health Laboratory
Assists Member States in strengthening food security and livelihoods through improved livestock productivity and control of transboundary animal and zoonotic diseases.
Plant Breeding and Genetics Laboratory
Assists Member States in enhancing crop biodiversity through mutation breeding to contribute to climate-smart agriculture and food security.
Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Laboratory
Assists Member States in optimizing soil management and improving agricultural water use efficiency for climate-smart agriculture, as well as enhance nuclear emergency preparedness and response.
Food and Environmental Protection Laboratory
Assists Member States in establishing effective food traceability and food contaminant control systems to support food safety.
Three Seibersdorf laboratories are working in the following areas:
Ensures accurate dosimetry in radiation medicine and radiation protection applications through providing calibrations and audit services for institutions worldwide.
Nuclear Science and Instrumentation Laboratory
Develops and adapts nuclear instrumentation for a wide range of applications from environmental monitoring to materials science to cultural heritage, with an emphasis on portable instrumentation or on-site measurements.
Provides environmental assessments and ensures high quality analytical measurements in Member State laboratories by making available reference materials and proficiency tests.
A need for ReNuAL
These laboratories in Seibersdorf were built in 1962. Since then, the number of IAEA Member States has more than doubled, and so have the requests for assistance from the nuclear applications laboratories. Over time, Member States' needs have also been evolving, as demonstrated by such new challenges as the Zika virus, climate change, the global cancer epidemic, and emergency preparedness and response related to nuclear incidents.
The laboratories, however, have not received a comprehensive renovation or thorough upgrading of equipment since their inauguration over 50 years ago. As a result, they increasingly struggle to respond to the needs of Member States. Recognizing this, the IAEA has established the Renovation of the Nuclear Applications Laboratories project (ReNuAL), which seeks to begin the modernization of the nuclear application laboratories.