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Using Nuclear Science to Boost Plant Biodiversity

Using Nuclear Science to Boost Plant Biodiversity

Giving Mother Nature a Helping Hand

Producer: Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture (NAFA)

For more than 80 years, mutation breeding has been a fundamental and highly successful tool in the global efforts to feed an ever increasing and nutritiously demanding population. The method uses radiation to expose seeds or other plant materials, which are then grown for two to four generations to identify new but rare mutants. Uniform breeding materials are then produced, tested in the field and compared to existing varieties, before finally being released to farmers. Using this method, thousands of crop varieties have been generated, delivering high yields, tolerance to diseases, increased nutritional value and improved resilience to the effects of climate change.