Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero hunger

Nuclear science and technology can help fight hunger and malnutrition and improve food security and food safety. Through the IAEA and its partnerships, including with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), many countries use nuclear tools to develop sustainable agricultural practices, establish and improve nutrition programmes and ensure stable supplies of quality food. Their work contributes to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 on Zero Hunger and ending all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030.

Sustainable agriculture and food security

Sustainable agricultural practices developed with the help of nuclear and related techniques help farmers conserve soil, water and crop resources, protect plants from damaging insect pests and grow more food using new plant varieties that are diseases resistant, thrive under changing climate conditions such as drought and increased soil salinity. Other methods help farmers protect the health of their livestock and improve animal reproduction and breeding practices while conserving natural resources.

With a ‘farm-to-fork’ approach, the IAEA and FAO help countries use nuclear and related techniques throughout the food production chain. As food products are prepared for consumption, nuclear techniques, such as irradiation, can help protect food quality, increase shelf lives and ensure food safety. These techniques can also be used to check food for contaminants and to ensure its authenticity to prevent food fraud. Such techniques also facilitate export, thus contribute to increase income for framers and national economy at large.

Fighting hunger and malnutrition

To combat hunger and malnutrition, health professionals and scientists use nuclear and isotopic techniques to study various forms of malnutrition — from undernutrition to obesity. The results of their studies help policymakers and experts develop and maintain effective programmes and policies to address hunger and malnutrition. These include food fortification initiatives that focus on producing food rich in key vitamins and minerals, programmes to limit calorie intake to fight obesity, as well as programmes to help mothers breastfeed their babies and feed their children.

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