The number of people facing food insecurity has more than doubled since 2020. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report unveiled that in 2022, between 691 and 783 million people across the globe experienced hunger. Global food security faces mounting pressures due to the escalating demands on natural resources and risks associated to climate change, both of which threaten the overall sustainability of food systems at large.

Atoms4Food is an initiative to help countries boost food security and to tackle growing hunger. The initiative seeks to provide countries with ground-breaking solutions tailored to their specific needs and circumstances by harnessing the advantages of nuclear techniques along with other advanced technologies to enhance agricultural and livestock productivity, natural resources management, reduce food losses, ensure food safety, improve nutrition and adapt to the challenges of climate change.

Atoms4Food builds on the almost 60 years of experience that the IAEA and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have jointly developed in supporting countries to use nuclear and isotope technology solutions. The Joint FAO/IAEA Centre of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture advances and supports the safe and appropriate use of nuclear and related technologies in food and agriculture to increase global food security and sustainable agricultural development worldwide. Nuclear science offers innovative tools to grow stronger, healthier, safer crops and to protect food sources to sustain our lives.

Atoms4Food services

  1. Assessment Mission to map the food security needs and to develop a tailored plan to address food security challenges.
  2. Crop Variety Improvement Service to build crop improvement programmes using the nuclear method of plant mutation breeding to create more robust and nutritious crops.
  3. Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Service to use the precision of nuclear and isotopic science to gather information on soil fertility, major crops and their average yield, availability of fertilizer and water irrigation systems.
  4. Animal Production and Health Service to provide a scientific assessment of the epidemiological situation of animal diseases; interventions for prevention, diagnosis and control; and laboratory and other veterinary service capacities.
  5. Insect Pest Control Service to address insect pests that affect agricultural production by using the nuclear-based sterile insect technique.
  6. Food Safety and Control Service to assess laboratory capabilities and the ability to conduct surveillance of food hazards.
  7. Public Health Nutrition Service to inform impactful nutrition programming using evidence on the nutritional value of foods and diet quality derived from the use of stable isotope techniques.

Partnerships and funding

Partnership and collaboration will be the cornerstone for implementing the Atoms4Food Initiative. Collaborating with traditional and non-traditional partners, including other UN Agencies, Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), international financial institutions, development agencies, foundations, industry, national academia and research institutions, will contribute to the long term sustainability of the initiative’s outcomes.

The IAEA and FAO launched the Atoms4Food initiative at the 2023 World Food Forum in Rome.

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