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Nuclear Technology Helps the Dominican Republic Fight Insect Pests

Louise Potterton

In the Dominican Republic, agriculture is the second most important industry and a major employer. In March 2015, the outbreak of a highly destructive agricultural pest, the Mediterranean fruit fly, was detected in the country. Shortly after, one of the country's main export markets - the United Sates - banned the import of 18 Dominican fruits and vegetables, causing an estimated US$ 42 million loss in 2015 alone and putting thousands of jobs at risk. With the support of the IAEA, the country launched a programme to eradicate the fly using the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) - a form of insect birth control that uses radiation to sterilize male insects. On 7 July 2017, the Dominican Republic announced that it is free of the fly, just over two years after the outbreak.

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