Saturday, July 25, 2009

Nuclear Agriculture-A Boon for the mankind

BY VINOD ERAT


Nuclear agriculture is the safe application of nuclear technology in the various phases of agriculture with different objectives ranging from increasing the yield to processing foodstuff to modifying the genetic make-up of pests.

Below are given the application of nuclear technology in agriculture and food processing

1)Increase crop production: Exposing plants to small doses of radiation helps change the genetic make-up of plants and lead to improved varieties.

2)Develop hundreds of varieties of hardier, more disease-resistant crops— improve the nutritional value of some crops.

3)Irradiation is one of the most promising and effective treatments for many types of food preservation. It can reduce food losses (due to insect damage, disease and premature sprouting of tubers) increase the possibilities of expanding intra-regional and international food trade.

4)Many countries are looking at the advantages to be gained with irradiating 'high value/low volume crops' such as spices and fruits. Irradiation improves the hygiene quality of spices so that the strict controls imposed by big importers, such as the US and EU, can be met.

5)Irradiation also plays an important role in reducing the risk of transfer of pests and diseases from one country or region to another. Food products contaminated by soil, such as cassava tubers, are often infested with insects or nematodes. These are difficult to kill without the use of intensive chemical fumigation,irradiation is an effective alternative, rendering the pests sterile so that they are unable to breed and establish themselves in a new location.

6)In addition, the risk of food-borne diseases caused by Salmonella and E.coli pathogens can also be reduced with irradiation. This technology is ideally suited for foods of animal origin, especially those to be consumed raw or minimally processed. Rather like thermally pasteurising milk, irradiation can ensure the hygiene quality of meat and seafood products without significantly changing quality, taste or texture.

7)Protecting land and resources: isotopes measure soil, water and nutrient storage, soil erosion, and fertilizer and pesticide waste; they enable farmers to keep closer track of their operations and use vital resources more sparingly and effectively.


8)Increasing livestock production: scientists use isotopes to study hormones and learn more about reproduction cycles, which helps in areas such as the timing of artificial-insemination programmes.


To help developing countries progress in irradiation technology, international organisations such as FAO and IAEA are able to provide support in the training of irradiation personnel to meet international standards.

In India BARC is the regulating and co-ordinating agency.

2 comments:

  1. Educative. Thanks vinod.

    is this technology being implemented somewhere or is it currently under research stages?

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  2. Vinit

    In many countries this is in advanced stage of application,whereas in some it is still under studies.Lot of African countries are also using these applications.

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