• English
  • العربية
  • 中文
  • Français
  • Русский
  • Español

You are here

Nuclear Focus on Animal Production and Health

The FAO/IAEA Symposium on Sustainable Improvement of Animal Production and Health is taking place from 8-11 June 2009 in Vienna, Austria. In the photo, Ms. Ana María Cetto, IAEA Deputy Director General; Gerrit Viljoen, Head, Animal Production and Health Section, Joint FAO/IAEA Division; and Dr. Mobido Traore, FAO Assistant Director General.

An international symposium focusing on the use of nuclear technologies to enhance animal nutrition and reproduction strategies and to detect and control animal-origin diseases that can be transmitted to humans, such as Influenza-A (H1N1), popularly known as swine flu, and avian influenza, opens today in Vienna.

Around 500 animal production and health experts from over 100 countries are set to present up-to-date findings for solving or alleviating factors affecting animal production. In addition, they will discuss modern techniques for curbing animal diseases that affect humans, also known as "zoonoses", which account for 70 percent of all human infectious diseases.

In his keynote speech, Dr. David Nabarro, Assistant Secretary General and UN System Coordinator for Influenza and Global Food Security, acknowledged the fact that this meeting comes at a critical time.

"Food insecurity and hunger are being experienced every day by at least one billion of the world´s inhabitants. That is one person in six, or 14 per cent of the global population, with a child dying of malnutrition every six seconds," he said.

The symposium, jointly organised by the IAEA and FAO, aims to provide a clear overview of the current and future use of nuclear and nuclear-related techniques in solving livestock problems, alleviating rural poverty, controlling the spread of diseases and enhancing food security and food quality. Topics on the agenda include interactions among nutrition, reproduction and genotype, effects of environment on animal productivity, detection and control of trans-boundary, emerging and zoonotic diseases and achieving food safety and security in the 21st century.

"This is a symposium that we have every five years," says Gerrit Viljoen who heads the Animal Production and Health Section of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division. "It´s a very topical event at the moment, with the food crisis, emerging diseases and the quest for people to have more and better quality food."

Nuclear technologies are used in many areas of livestock research and production. For example, isotopic tracer techniques can measure the nutritive value of feedstuff, to determine the nutrient intake or energy balance of animals, and to study the metabolism of nutrients in the animal body. The research helps to formulate balanced diets to achieve efficient growth and production. Isotopic methods are also used to monitor reproductive status, leading to better breeding management.

Nuclear techniques are also used in livestock disease diagnosis. For example, isotopic technologies offer great advantages in measuring reactions very precisely and accurately. Scientists use them to produce better diagnostic tools and tests or to follow the progress of a drug through the body. Better diagnostics will help provide early diagnoses of diseased animals, while better drugs or vaccines will help reduce the losses due to the disease agent.

The FAO/IAEA Symposium on Sustainable Improvement of Animal Production and Health is taking place from 8-11 June 2009 in Vienna, Austria. The event is organised in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Animal Health Organization (OIE).


The Joint FAO/IAEA Animal Production and Health effort enhances global food security by implementing sustainable livestock production systems using nuclear and nuclear-related techniques. The program assists Member States with the efficient use of local feed resources, adequate livestock management and breeding programs, and tools to control and prevent animal and zoonotic diseases.

Last update: 27 Jul 2017

Stay in touch