Nuclear technology helps Mexico eradicate invasive insect pest


In cooperation with IAEA and the Meals and Agricultural Group (FAO), scientists there was ready to make use of a UN-developed nuclear-based sterile insect method (SIT) to eradicate the medfly, extra generally often known as the fruit fly.

Threatening farmers’ livelihoods

The Colima outbreak, detected in April 2021 within the nation’s largest port, Manzanillo, posed a right away danger to crops, together with guavas, mangoes, papaya, and oranges.

If not managed promptly, Mexico – the world’s seventh-largest producer and exporter of contemporary fruit and veggies – may have confronted quarantine restrictions imposed by States free from this pest.

It will have been a major blow to commerce throughout the sector general, which generates over €8.8 billion, or greater than $9.2 billion, yearly in exports in addition to tens of millions of native jobs.

Prepared help

After receiving an emergency help request that April, the IAEA and FAO instantly dispatched specialists to assist arrange and consider how SIT may very well be deployed.

“That is yet one more instance the place SIT has been efficiently used to forestall, suppress and eradicate invasive insect pests, contributing worldwide to meals safety and security,” mentioned FAO/IAEA entomologist, Walther Enkerlin Hoeflich, on the UN atomic company’s method developed for Member States by means of the Joint FAO/IAEA Centre of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture.



Unsplash/Sahil Muhammed

Shut up of a medfly, extra generally often known as a fruitfly.

SIT success

When medfly females lay eggs in ripe fruit the standard of merchandise may be impacted, making them inedible and unfit to be offered.

To manage the outbreak, Mexico designed and applied an emergency motion plan with the help of FAO/IAEA specialists, delivered by means of the IAEA technical cooperation programme.

Scientists launched greater than 1,450 million sterile male flies in Colima with the environmentally-friendly SIT insect pest management technique, that makes use of irradiation to sterilize bugs.

When the males mated with wild females after their launch, no offspring had been produced – finally resulting in eradication of the bugs.

“Mexico has managed to keep up its standing as a rustic freed from the Mediterranean fly,” mentioned Francisco Ramírez y Ramírez, Common Director of Plant Well being of the Nationwide Service for Agrifood Well being, Security and High quality (SENASICA) of Mexico on the occasion declaring the eradication of the pest within the State of Colima.

Sterilization lab

In cooperation with FAO, the world’s second largest Mediterranean fruit fly facility opened earlier this yr with IAEA help in Mexico’s Chiapas state on its southeastern border with Guatemala.

It’s the second largest on this planet with a manufacturing capability of one billion flies a week to assist maintain the nation’s rising agriculture pest free.

It focuses on mass manufacturing of sterile bugs and, along with the El Pino facility in Guatemala, helps keep the containment barrier that forestalls the introduction and unfold of the pest to northern Guatemala, Mexico, and america.

The IAEA will proceed helping and dealing along with Mexico by means of nationwide and regional technical cooperation initiatives, and thru its National Fruit Fly Programme, an IAEA Collaborating Centre.

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