"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Monday, May 09, 2005

Peaceful use of nuclear energy in Israel and it's neighbours

The Gubments of Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority have teamed up with the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) ($2Mn over 7 years) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to wipe-out medfly a nasty, damaging and economically damaging pest of peppers. USAID, through its Middle East Regional Cooperation (MERC) programme, has supported the three parties (Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories) with a $ 2.5 million grant from 2001 until 2005.

The female medfly ripening fruit and vegetables - by piercing the skin and laying its eggs inside. When the maggots hatch they feed off the fruit´s pulp. Losses were high, crops could not be exported because of disease control regulations.Total annual losses from medfly in the region amounts to around US $300 million despite use of costly insecticides . Infested produce lock farmers out of key export markets that are governed by tight regulations to stop the spread of this menacing pest.

A radiation technology known as the sterile insect technique (SIT) is now used to stop the medflies from breeding and is a proven, environmentally-friendly area-wide method of biological pest control. Medfly eggs are bathed in warm water - this kills female embryos – not males. In the pupae stage, the males are irradiated until sexually sterile. They are then released on mass in the Arava Valley on both sides of the Israeli and Jordanian borders. As many as 15 million sterile male medflies are let loose each week.These programs have been conducted on a massive scale elsewhere, the El Pino facility in Guatemala alone produces around 1.6 billion (1.6 x 109) sterile male medflies per week, primarily for use in California and Guatemala.

Despite its environmental benefits, SIT has, so far only been used against a few target pests. This is due to a fundamental problem with the system. Released insects are required to compete for mates with wild insects. However, the need to sterilize the insects by irradiation, causes a significant loss of fitness relative to the wild type, so that the released insects are quite ineffective at mating. Irradiated insects are less competitive and have much reduced life spans.

But the results so far have been effective in dramatically reducing the region’s medfly population and significantly reduced local farmers´ reliance on insecticides. The program is being extended to the Negev desert and will be extended further in future.

The IAEA/FAO medfly project is also a platform that is bringing Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian experts together in partnership to solve a shared problem. Atomic resources are being used to good effect to farmers throughout the region.

An International Conference on Area-Wide Control of Insect Pests: Integrating the Sterile Insect and Related Nuclear and Other Techniques is being held at IAEA headquarters in Vienna 9-13 May 2005

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