IAEA and FAO Launch Seeds into Space to Study Climate Change-Resistant Crops

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by KnowESG

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) recently launched seeds into space as part of their joint efforts to develop new crops that can withstand the effects of climate change on Earth.

The seeds are on their way from the IAEA and FAO agriculture and biotechnology laboratories to the International Space Station. This is happening at the same time that world leaders are meeting in Sharm El Sheikh for the UN Climate Change Conference COP 27 to talk about important environmental issues, such as how the climate crisis is affecting the world's food production systems.

FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said:

"The world’s millions of smallholder farmers urgently require resilient, high-quality seeds adapted to increasingly challenging growing conditions. Innovative science like space breeding of improved crop varieties can help pave the road to a brighter future of better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life."

Arabidopsis seeds, a plant commonly used in genetic experiments, and Sorghum seeds, a nutrient-rich grain used for human food, animal feed, and ethanol, will be exposed to space conditions for approximately three months, primarily microgravity, a complex mixture of cosmic radiation, and extreme low temperatures.

Scientists at the Joint FAO/IAEA Centre of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture will grow and screen them for useful traits upon their return to better understand space-induced mutations of plant seeds - a technique known as space mutagenesis - and identify new varieties capable of adapting to changing terrestrial conditions associated with climate change.

The world's food supply would become less stable in the future, according to the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land, affecting the most vulnerable people the most. Farmers and policymakers who need to make big changes and investments to adapt to a changing environment and keep productivity and food quality high could benefit from new crop varieties from space.

The continuing effort is based on the Joint FAO/IAEA Centre's nearly 60 years of experience in causing mutations in plants and thereby speeding up breeding with the use of radiation to generate new agricultural crop varieties. So far, more than 3,400 mutant varieties of more than 210 plant species, including several food crops, ornamentals, and trees, have been approved for commercial use in 70 countries.

Source: AKIpress

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