They send seeds to the International Space Station to create crops adapted to climate change

11/08/2022 at 09:25


FAO points out that humanity urgently needs seeds with high resistance capacity

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) sent a batch of seeds to the International Space Station to jointly develop new crops capable of adapting and resisting the effects of climate change on earth.

The Director General of the IAEA, Rafael Mariano Grossi, pointed out that nuclear science is demonstrating “once again its extraordinary capacity to deal with climate change” and, therefore, expressed his hope that this experiment will generate progress, with results that the IAEA will share “freely” with scientists and new crops that help farmers adapt to climate change and increase food supplies.

For his part, the director general of the FAO, Qu Dongyu, stated that Millions of vulnerable small-scale food producers across the globe urgently need high-quality, resilient seeds adapted to increasingly challenging growing conditions.

“Innovative science, such as space farming of improved crop varieties, can help pave the way to a brighter future of better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life,” he said.

Specifically, the seeds sent into space include ‘Arabidopsis’, ‘sorghum’, a grain used in human and animal nutrition, and ‘ethanol’, They will be exposed both inside and outside the International Space Station for approximately three months to the conditions that prevail in space, mainly microgravity, a complex mix of cosmic radiation and extremely low temperatures, reports Europa Press.

Experiment crops adapted to warming | Agencies

Upon their return, scientists from the Joint FAO/IAEA Center for Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture grow them and examine useful traits to better understand space-induced plant seed mutations (a technique known as spatial mutagenesis) and identify new varieties capable of adapting to changing terrestrial conditions associated with climate change.

The ongoing experiment, the IAEA and FAO report, builds on the 60 years of experience of the Joint FAO/IAEA Center in inducing mutations in plants and thereby accelerating their reproduction with the help of of radiation to develop new varieties of agricultural crops.

3,400 mutant varieties already marketed

So far, more than 3,400 mutant varieties of more than 210 plant species have been officially released for commercial use in 70 countries. that developed through induced genetic variation and mutational breeding, including numerous food crops, ornamental plants, and trees.

Now it will be the first time that the IAEA and the FAO have carried out genomic and biological analyzes of seeds exposed to spatial mutagenesis. On the International Space Station, the seeds will be exposed to unique conditions that cannot be reproduced in a laboratory on Earth.

This project will be part of the IAEA and FAO climate change portfolio of projects aimed at helping countries adapt to new climate realities, including food and water scarcity and biodiversity loss, through science and nuclear technology.

In the context of COP27, the IAEA and FAO will hold an event on November 15 at 1 p.m. to explain how joint planning and management of energy, food and water resources can contribute to climate-resilient development.