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Remarks at Third FAO/IAEA International Conference on Area-wide Management of Insect Pests: Integrating the Sterile Insect and Related Nuclear and Other Techniques

Vienna, Austria

(As prepared for delivery) 

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am very pleased to welcome you to this Third FAO/IAEA International Conference on Area-wide Management of Insect Pests.

This is a very important issue for many of the IAEA’s 168 Member States. Insect pests can cause serious diseases in human beings and animals and can destroy entire crops of fruit and vegetables. They can ruin farmers’ livelihoods and seriously damage countries’ economies.

As a result of rapid growth in international travel and trade, new regions – and even new continents – are being affected by insect pests.

Demand for expert assistance in this field is growing. The IAEA, through our well-established partnership with the FAO, helps countries to use nuclear techniques to control insect pests, often with great success.

We make available the sterile insect technique, which, as you know, involves the sterilisation of male insects using radiation, before their release into the environment. SIT has proven to be very successful against screwworms, fruit flies, tsetse flies and moths.

Following outbreaks of the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2015 and 2016, the IAEA quickly provided technical support to help countries such as Brazil, Cuba and Mexico to plan and implement SIT pilot projects against the Aedes mosquito.

I have seen for myself in visits to many countries what a difference successful pest control makes to countless families and communities.

Experience has shown that area-wide integrated pest management – the subject of your Conference – can be very effective.

This approach integrates a number of modern pest control methods and deals in a coordinated manner with entire pest populations, rather than just with local infestations. It promotes the integration of biologically-based and sustainable pest control methods, including SIT.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The IAEA is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

In the past six decades, we have helped many countries to use nuclear science and technology to improve the prosperity, health and well-being of their people in areas such as human health, food and agriculture, water management and environmental protection.

In delivering that support, we need to work with the leading specialists in the relevant field. Some of them spend time with us as staff members or researchers, while others cooperate with us through national institutions.

Important research has been done at the IAEA’s own Insect Pest Control Laboratory in Seibersdorf, near Vienna. A brand new laboratory is under construction as part of a major renovation of the IAEA nuclear applications laboratories.

Ladies and Gentlemen,  

I greatly value the work done by the experts gathered here for this Conference to tackle harmful insect pests. You are helping to strengthen food security for many millions of people.

The IAEA, working with the FAO, is pleased to be your partner in helping countries to develop capacities for area-wide pest management.

I am confident that this Conference will make an important contribution to making the area-wide approach more widely available and improving understanding of the latest research and practical techniques in this field.

Thank you.

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