IAEA Calls for Increased Investment in Climate-Resilient Plant Breeding Technique

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) 2 December 2008: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has called for increased investment in a plant breeding technique that uses radiation to produce improved high-yielding plants that adapt to harsh climate conditions and that could therefore contribute to the fight against hunger.

For decades, the IAEA, in partnership with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has assisted member States to enhance agricultural output using nuclear technology. It has been recognized that one of the causes of the current food crisis are the adverse weather conditions linked to climate change and the diversion of land for the cultivation of biofuels.

Werner Burkart, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications, stated that 2008 was “a wake-up call to the realization that world food production was unsustainable and vulnerable to factors such as climate change and energy demands,” stressing the interlinkages among these issues. Through exposure to radiation, scientists produce mutants in the search of specific traits such as resistance to drought conditions, or saline soil. [IAEA Press Release]