Bolivia promotes use of nuclear energy for agriculture

Bolivia promotes use of nuclear energy for agriculture


The Government intends to achieve the first applications of nuclear energy for the agricultural sector until 2019 through the completion of the Gamma Irradiation Plant that is plan to be finished until 2021. The specialists consulted in this medium ruled out harmful consequences for health and agricultural entrepreneurs expect that the project is socialized in the short term.


The Executive General Director of the Bolivian Nuclear Energy Agency (ABEN), Hortensia Giménez, explained – on Friday during the signing of a contract for nuclear medicine centers – that the plant is in a design and licensing cover.


The initiative is part of the Bolivian Nuclear Program, whose facilities will be built at the Center for Research and Development in Nuclear Technology located in the 8th district of the city of El Alto, where, in addition, the national building Ciclotron-Radiofarmacia and the Nuclear Research Reactor.


The investment for the project is 300 million dollars, however, that amount is expected to register variations, taking into account that President Evo Morales requested that the infrastructure be the largest in South America, said Giménez.


The objective of the plant is to increase agro-industrial productivity based on gamma irradiation technology, Giménez said. On the other hand he added that the technology will contribute to the genetic improvement of seeds, with induced mutation and will contribute to improve soil quality and fertility, insect and pest control, among other aspects.


Meanwhile, the physicist and analyst Francesco Zaratti ruled out adverse effects for both health and soils, caused by irradiation, because “the radioactive doses are low.” He assured that the soils do not intervene, because the irradiation is done on the processed foods, ready to be exported. “These are universal techniques, used for many years,” he concluded. For Zaratti the purpose of the application of gamma radiation is to sterilize organic products destined for export, meeting the quality standards required by the countries of destination. Therefore, it ensures that the benefit will be for exporters of certain products. Regarding the technical aspect of gamma radiation on seeds and food, Zaratti explained that it is the application of low doses, harmless to humans but fatal for bacteria that may reside in the products since “they would be totally exterminated by the irradiation”.


In turn, Giménez said that Bolivia is at a stage in which “a mature technology” is applied and that this project has the support of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).


In turn, the president of the Association of Oilseed and Wheat Producers (Anapo), Marcelo Pantoja, said that the technology, applied in countries such as Argentina, Peru and Mexico, among others, is used for product disinfection and food safety . However, it considers important an approach with the Government to know in depth the aspects that are being taken into account for the application of this type of radiation in the country.

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Arnaud Lefevre

Arnaud Lefevre is the Chief Executive Officer of Dynatom International. Arnaud is in charge of the international development of the business portfolio.