Material Modification of Natural Polymers
Gamma irradiation makes it possible to redesign a particular material so that it serves a specific purpose. The polymer, cassava starch, for example, is the base material to make super water absorbents (SWA). SWAs processed by radiation are useful for agriculture in areas where there is little rain or frequent periods of drought. SWAs keep the fertilizer close to roots for as long as they need it. This reduces waste, reduces pollution of waterways and saves farmers money.*
*Source: IAEA Division of Public Information, 2013
Disinfestation of Beehives
American Foulbrood (AFB) is a serious bacterial disease that affects beehives. The disease is essentially incurable leaving beekeepers with few options but to burn infected hives, which can result in significant replacement costs. Gamma is a cost-effective alternative that has been demonstrated to be an effective means of treating AFB-contaminated hives for reuse.*
*Source: Gamma radiation sanitation in beekeeping management
Insect Population Control
Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) was pioneered in the 1950s to control populations of insects that spread disease or impact agricultural crops. Gamma irradiation is used to render male screw-worm flies, tse-tse flies and other fruit flies sterile. Large numbers of sterile males are then released into the wild, dramatically reducing the number of insects in the next generation. Repeated release can eventually wipe out a population of insects. A World Food Prize was awarded to Dr. Raymond Bushland and Dr. Edward Knipling for their development and use of this technique.