Nuclear technology is being innovatively used for Improving safety in the food and agriculture industry.

Fremont  CA: Nuclear technology is used in some of the most inventive ways to improve agricultural techniques. Pests and illnesses can be controlled, crop output increased, land and water resources protected, and food safety ensured using isotopes or radiation techniques in agriculture.

Here are some ways Nuclear technology is being used in the food and agriculture sector:

Food safety and control

Nuclear techniques can improve food safety and quality control by detecting or eradicating dangerous residues and impurities in food products. For example, ionizing radiation applied to food might eliminate potentially hazardous microorganisms, reducing foodborne sickness. Food irradiation, a rapidly expanding commercial application, can also prevent the spread of insect pests and is used to ensure the cross-border trade of fruits and vegetables.

Better soil and water management

Though it's hard to believe, past nuclear disasters are actually assisting scientists. When it comes to determining the health of soils and the rate of erosion, scientists can use radioactive nuclides leftover from nuclear events to assist them.

This method was used to raise soybeans, which were initially considered a minor crop in Benin. To measure and monitor soil quality, some scientists added a radioactive isotope to the soil. They found the specific bacteria required to improve soybean field conditions in Benin and the addition of nitrogen-15 stable isotope fertilizer to track fertilizer uptake and soil health, which resulted in soybean production increase from 57,000 tons in 2009 to 2,20,000 tons in 2019.

Pest management

The sterile insect technique (SIT), derived from nuclear power, is an environmentally acceptable technique for controlling insects and pests. The insects are mass-reared before being sterilized with ionising radiation before being released back into pest-infested areas. Insect pests are suppressed or eradicated using this strategy, decreasing reproduction and eliminating established insect pests. It can also prevent the spread of invasive species and is much safer for the environment and human health than using traditional insecticides.

Improving animal health

In terms of identifying, managing, and avoiding transboundary animal and zoonotic illnesses, nuclear technologies have made a significant difference. To detect illness epidemics in Belize, veterinary officers had to transfer samples to laboratories in other countries. The Belize Agricultural Health Authority then collaborated with the Joint FAO/IAEA Centre to create its own Animal Health Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory. Lab personnel employed real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) assays, a molecular nuclear technique, to quickly diagnose diseases with the right equipment and training. They informed field workers, who could subsequently take action to promptly manage the condition, thanks to these quick and accurate diagnoses.