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New CRP: Phytosanitary Treatment of Food Commodities and Promotion of Trade (CRP D61026)

New Coordinated Research Project
Two male workers in Viet Nam preparing boxes filled with fruit ahead of irradiation, a procedure that kills pests while leaving the fruit intact.

Workers in Viet Nam preparing boxes filled with fruit ahead of irradiation, a procedure that kills pests while leaving the fruit intact. (Photo: Hanoi Irradiation Center)

As the commercial use of ionising radiation as a post-harvest phytosanitary measure to overcome trade restrictions on fresh food commodities is increasing globally, the IAEA is launching a coordinated research project to develop a set of generic, standard irradiation treatments.

Food irradiation involves gamma, electron beam or X ray irradiation to doses of less than 1 kGy to prevent insects from being able to reproduce and establish in new areas. It is a chemical-free way of enabling trade that would otherwise be restricted due to risk-based pest controls on shipments such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Currently 16 treatments are recognized in the plant health standards of the International Plant Protection Convention. However, only one is generic (to the family of fruit flies) and the rest relate to specific pest species. Having more internationally accepted generic treatments, where one radiation dose is broadly applicable to a wide range of different pest species, would support further up-take of the technology and increased trade in irradiated fruits and vegetables.

The overall objective of the CRP is to validate absorbed radiation doses proposed as generic treatments for nine key groups of pests (see list below) and develop at least five generic phytosanitary irradiation treatments for adoption in the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures of the International Plant Protection Convention. Factors that might affect treatment efficacy will also be investigated to stimulate the development of new irradiation techniques to combat pests and maintain fresh fruit and vegetable quality. Both publicly funded and private research institutions are encouraged to apply. Participants will be encouraged to collaborate with industry and other stakeholders.


Generic pest group

  • Weevils of the family Curculionidae
  • Leaf miners of the family Agromyzidae
  • Mealybugs of the family Pseudococcidae
  • Scale insects of the family Diaspididae
  • Eggs and larvae of the order Lepidoptera
  • All other regulated insect pests other than pupa and adult Lepidoptera
  • Mites of the family Tetranychidae
  • Pupae of the order Lepidoptera
  • Mites in families other than Tetranychidae

The specific research objectives are:

  • To research and identify examples of the most radiation-tolerant species in each of nine pest groups important for trade. Colonies of the pests may need to be established in the laboratory to rear sufficient numbers of pests for the research.
  • To conduct tests with large numbers of individuals of each of the most radiation-tolerant species to confirm minimum efficacious doses of ionising radiation for each of the nine groups as a whole.
  • To investigate factors that may affect the application of generic doses in order to innovate improved future treatment technologies.

How to join this CRP

Up to 10 research contracts and 5 agreements will be awarded under this coordinated research project. Please submit your Proposal for Research Contract or Agreement by email, no later than 15 November 2021, to the IAEA’s Research Contracts Administration Section, using the appropriate template on the CRA web portal. Note that the same template can be used for both research contract and technical contract. For further information related to this CRP, potential applicants should use the contact form under the CRP page.

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