Continuing Regular Session, Non-Governmental Organizations Committee Takes Note of 287 Quadrennial Reports, Postpones Action on 3 Entities

On the sixth day of its 2019 regular session, the Committee on Non‑Governmental Organizations today postponed action on requests from 3 organizations for special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council and took note of …

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Arms Control and International Security: Nuclear Technical Cooperation: Benefits from the Nonproliferation Regime for the Developing World

Distinguished Co-Chairs, Excellencies, and ladies and gentlemen, the United States is pleased to attend this conference, for as we all approach the 50th anniversary of the entry into force of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT…

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Delegates Say New Marine Biodiversity Treaty Must Respect Jurisdiction of Coastal States over Their Continental Shelf, as Intergovernmental Conference Continues

The intergovernmental conference to draft the first‑ever treaty to conserve and protect marine diversity on the high seas concluded its general discussions today before moving to informal negotiations on the text, with speakers calling for a univ…

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Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity

Note: A complete summary of today’s meetings will be available after their conclusion.General Exchange of Views

The representative of Indonesia, associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said mari…

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Commencing 2018 Regular Session, Non-Governmental Organization Committee Recommends Status for 95 Groups, Defers Action on 37 Others

Opening its regular session for 2018, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today recommended 95 organizations for special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and deferred action on the status of 37 others….

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FACT SHEET: The U.S. Commitment to the Global Health Security Agenda

Today during the G-20 Leaders’ Summit in Antalya, Turkey, President Obama announced that the United States and 30 countries, listed below, have made a commitment to work together to achieve the targets of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA).  Working closely with these partners and countries around the world, we will strive to achieve a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats by building measurable, sustainable capacity to prevent, detect and rapidly respond to infectious disease threats, whether naturally occurring, accidental or deliberately spread.  We call on all countries to make additional commitments to save lives by preventing future outbreaks from becoming epidemics.

Beginning with the release of the National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats in 2009, and outlined in his 2011 speech at the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama has called upon all countries to come together to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats.  On February 13, 2014, together with partners from around the world, we launched the GHSA with the vision of achieving a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats through building our collective capacity to prevent and control outbreaks whenever and wherever they occur.

GHSA accelerates action and spurs progress toward implementation of the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations and other global health security frameworks, such as the World Organization for Animal Health’s Performance of Veterinary Services Pathway.  The non-governmental sector also has an important role to play in the implementation of GHSA, including academic and research institutes, think tanks, industry, philanthropy and the private sector.

U.S. Commitment

When the GHSA was launched, the United States made a commitment to partner with least 30 countries over five years to achieve the GHSA targets.  In July 2015, the U.S. Government announced its intent to invest more than $1 billion in resources to expand the GHSA to prevent, detect, and respond to future infectious disease outbreaks in 17 countries.  Today, we are announcing an additional 13 countries, with which the United States will partner to achieve the targets of the GHSA.  These common, measurable targets have now been recognized by over 40 countries and achievement of these targets will expand our ability to:

  • Prevent or mitigate the impact of naturally-occurring outbreaks and intentional or accidental releases of dangerous pathogens;
  • Rapidly detect and transparently report outbreaks when they occur; and
  • Rapidly respond and control outbreaks before they become epidemics.

The 30 partner countries of the United States are: Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Laos, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Pakistan, Peru, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine, and Vietnam.  In addition, we plan to partner with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to strengthen regional capacity.

In each of these countries, the United States is working with host governments and other partners to establish a five-year country roadmap to achieve and sustain each of the targets of the GHSA.  These roadmaps are intended to enable a better understanding across sectors and assistance providers of the specific milestones, next steps, and gaps toward achieving capacity needed to prevent, detect, and respond to biological threats.

During the 2015 G-7 Summit in Germany, G-7 leaders matched this approach with an historic commitment to collectively assist at least 60 countries, including the countries of West Africa, over the next five years.  In October, 2015, the G-7 Health Ministers agreed to announce these countries by the end of 2015. 

The 29 member G7 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction also contributes to achieving the GHSA targets by bringing together the health and security sectors to establish global capacity, particularly in the areas of biosecurity, biosafety, biosurveillance, laboratory strengthening, and emergency response.

Preventing Future Outbreaks from Becoming Epidemics:  Since its launch in 2014, the GHSA has brought together partners and sectors from over 40 countries and 9 international organizations around the world to enhance global capacities to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to infectious disease threats through achieving measurable targets.  The GHSA Steering Group includes 10 countries, chaired in 2015 by Finland, in 2016 by Indonesia, and in 2017 by the Republic of Korea.  The GHSA Steering Group currently includes: Canada, Chile, Finland, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Republic of Korea, and the United States. 

The GHSA invests in needed capacity – infrastructure, equipment, and skilled personnel across sectors – and enhances coordination and commitment for  countries, international organizations and civil society to work together to achieve the following specific targets: Countering antimicrobial resistance; preventing the emergence and spread of zoonotic disease; advancing a whole-of-government national biosafety and biosecurity system in every country; improving immunization; establishing a national laboratory system; strengthening real-time biosurveillance; advancing timely and accurate disease reporting; establishing a trained global health security workforce; establishing emergency operations centers; linking public health, law and multi-sectoral rapid response; and enhancing medical countermeasures and personnel deployment.

As the Ebola outbreak in West Africa reached epidemic levels in September 2014, the White House hosted a high level meeting with 44 countries to announce over 100 commitments to strengthen capabilities under the GHSA.  In 2015, the Republic of Korea hosted the second high level event to bring together GHSA participating countries and organizations to highlight new commitments and progress. In 2016, the Netherlands will host the third GHSA high level event to highlight progress and continue to build momentum.

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World Food Day: How Nuclear Techniques Can Help to Combat Poverty and Hunger

In many parts of the world, extreme poverty disproportionately affects rural communities that rely on agriculture for their incomes. As the global community works together to combat rural poverty and to build inclusive, resilient and sustainable food systems, nuclear science and technology can play a role in overcoming agricultural challenges that perpetuate cycles of poverty and hunger.

Today is World Food Day — a day set out to raise awareness of the importance of combating the poverty and hunger that burden millions of people worldwide. The IAEA adds its voice by sharing a few of the ways that nuclear science and technology can help, from the ground where food grows to the insect pests that jeopardize animal and human lives, to the livestock that provide milk and meat.   

Taking root

As Dao Thanh Canh watched the soil of his coffee plantation erode away, he saw his livelihood slipping away along with it. The experience of this Vietnamese farmer is not uncommon: soil erosion is the main contributor to land degradation globally, leading to an annual loss of 75 billion tonnes of fertile soil, with an estimated economic cost of about US $126 billion per year (based on current fertilizer prices). For people who rely on agriculture for food and income, this can be devastating.

To help farmers better manage their soil and protect their livelihoods, the IAEA, in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), supports scientists and farmers in measuring and controlling soil erosion through the use of various nuclear techniques. Read about Dao Thanh Canh and how nuclear techniques helped him to turn his situation around.

To learn more about how nuclear techniques help in studying erosion, watch this video on Studying Erosion with the Help of Radionuclides.

Rice for the future

Monga means starvation in Bengali, and that is what farmers in the northern region of Bangladesh call the period between harvests when there is too little time to grow more crops, but not enough food or work to go around. In other parts of Bangladesh, harsh environmental conditions stunt crop growth and hamper yields. Seasonal gaps and increasing difficult climates affect millions of rural families worldwide making it difficult to break cycles of hunger and poverty.

Breeding new crop varieties is one way to face these challenges. From shorter maturation times to more salt tolerance, crop varieties developed using nuclear techniques offer farmers new options for overcoming these agricultural obstacles. In Bangladesh, monga no longer poses the same threat, as a new mutant rice variety developed using nuclear techniques offers higher yields and shorter maturation times, leading to more food and work for farm workers, including women. Read about how plant mutation breeding makes a difference in Bangladesh and how the IAEA is helping.

Watch this video on Giving Mother Nature a Helping Hand to learn more about how plant mutation breeding works.

Drip, drop here come the crops

Growing high value crops in Mauritius is a costly challenge for many small-scale farmers on the island nation where yields and productivity are hampered by limited water resources, a difficult climate, and decreasing annual rainfalls. For Mauritian farmers like Manoj Chumroo, options for increasing water use efficiency are often prohibitively expensive or labor-intensive and wasteful. With agriculture accounting for 70 per cent of global freshwater use and is only expected to increase according to the FAO, improving water use efficiency is crucial for development.

With the help of nuclear and isotopic techniques, farmers like Chumroo can measure moisture and nitrogen levels in both soil and plants to help them know exactly how much water and nutrients to use and when. And when coupled with methods like drip irrigation that delivers water directly to the base or roots of plants, water efficiency increases and crop yields can go up. The IAEA and its partners help countries improve the management of water and nutrients, and provide the training needed to benefit from these techniques. Read more about how work like this has influenced Chumroo’s life and the life of his family.

Find out more about drip irrigation and water management in More Crop Per Drop — Coping with Water Scarcity in Kenya.

Staving off insect pests

Insect pests wreak havoc on farmers worldwide, from fruit flies infesting citrus crops to screwworms threatening animal and human health. For years, farmers in the Niayes region of Senegal have lost livestock to blood-sucking tsetse flies and the parasites they carry. As these farmers lose livestock, they lose their milk and meat products as well as manure to fertilize crops — essential sources of food and income — and local development suffers. The impact of these flies is felt throughout sub-Saharan Africa with more than three million livestock lost to tsetse flies each year, which, according to the United Kingdom Department of International Development, costs the agriculture industry more than US $4 billion annually.

Now thanks to the combined use of an insect pest birth control method involving radiation and insecticides, more than 95% of the tsetse fly population has been reduced in target areas of the Niayes region. The sterile insect technique (SIT) uses ionizing radiation to mass sterilize male insect pests for the suppression, and in some cases, eradication of insect pests. SIT plays an important role in many countries as a means of managing insect pests in a more environmentally friendly and sustainable way, and the IAEA, along with its partners, are helping. Read more about the tsetse fly eradication efforts in Senegal and how SIT is making a difference.

To learn more about how the sterile insect technique works, watch this video on Using Nuclear Science to Control Pests.

Better animal health, more milk and meat

Cows, goats, sheep, poultry and pigs, among other livestock, are crucial sources of food and income for many people. When the animals fall ill or fail to produce milk, the problem is not just a veterinary issue, but it can have far reaching consequences for farmers and their families, the local community, and, in some cases, can cross borders and have zoonotic impacts. The status of these animals’ health and productivity can be the difference between a food crisis and thriving development.

In Cameroon, scientists and farmers are using innovative, nuclear and nuclear-derived techniques to help improve livestock genetics while keeping animals free from disease and thus increasing their meat and milk production. With support from the IAEA, through its technical cooperation programme and its partnership with the FAO, these techniques play a role in the country’s livestock reproduction and breeding, artificial insemination, and disease control programmes. Read more about Cameroon’s milk and cattle production and how livestock are getting a boost from nuclear techniques.

To find out more about this topic, watch these videos on Cattle Meet Nuclear Science and Protecting Africa’s Lifeblood: Controlling Animal Disease in Cameroon.

Help along the way

As people move along the path out of poverty, food supply chains grow in importance, and safeguarding food quality and safety helps to ensure there are no barriers to markets. For many developing countries where food trade is a large percentage of their GDP, ensuring food safety is key.

Food safety programmes too are supported by the IAEA through its technical cooperation programme and the partnership through the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture. This helps countries to use nuclear-related laboratory methods to monitor pesticide and veterinary drug levels as well as check for food fraud. In addition, food irradiation can help to keep food safe and to meet import/export standards by reducing the risks of food-borne pathogens and microorganisms and to prevent the transfer of unwanted pests in food supplies. 

To learn more about food safety controls, watch this video on A Health Check For Food, and find more information on food irradiation for improving food safety and quality in this video on Using Nuclear Science in Food Irradiation and an example of it in action in Safer Food for a Growing Population.

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Nuclear-Derived Techniques Improve Cattle Productivity and Milk Quality in Cameroon

Laboratory technician assessing data at the Institute of Agricultural Research for Development, Bambui, Cameroon

Focus on productivity

In collaboration with the IAEA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), LAVANET and the country’s Institute of Agricultural Research for Development are engaged in training technicians on disease control and artificial insemination to improve cattle productivity and breeding management. Veterinarians, veterinary extension services and breeders in the region have access to tested bull semen and are receiving training in artificial insemination, breeding management and animal health control. “Artificial insemination allows scientists to improve the genetic make-up of the offspring, leading to up to five times more milk produced per cow,” said Mario García Podesta of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture.

The methodology assists technical staff in improving the reproductive management of cattle farms and in obtaining more calves, meat and milk than with traditional farm management. The application of progesterone RIA in artificial insemination helps identifying 20-40% more cows for breeding than conventional methods that involved watching behavioural signs. It can subsequently increase the conception rate by between 5% and 50%, depending on the effectiveness of the traditional method and management previously used, said García Podesta.

Improving livestock also involves tracking and preventing diseases. LANAVET is performing surveillance to detect infectious diseases in northern Cameroon, where the seasonal movement of people with their livestock between summer and winter pastures poses disease risks to livestock Wade explained. Some of the most serious disease risks to cattle, sheep, goat and pigs are foot-and-mouth disease, contagious bovine pleuro-pneumonia, brucellosis, tuberculosis, peste des petits ruminants and African swine fever, which can become endemic if not swiftly addressed. Mobile labs using isotopic, nuclear and nuclear-derived techniques help to identify these risks early and rapidly, which results in effective response, he highlighted.

Reaching out

To extend awareness of the benefits of artificial insemination among rural farmers, who depend on traditional methods of cattle rearing, the Institute’s regional centre in Bambui works with them directly in getting across the message and providing access to the tools required for artificial insemination. “It is our duty to meet the demands of the farmers, and make them aware of the advantages of this procedure in strengthening livestock,” said Victorine Nsongka, Head of the Animal Production and Health Section of the Institute of Agricultural Research for Development in Bambui. “The proactive efforts by the Institute to successfully convince our farmers will assist in meeting the rising demand for meat and milk production.”

A related project, currently in its preparatory phase, will lead to the artificial insemination of 70 000 cows over the next six years in northwestern Cameroon, Nsongka said. Sponsored by the Islamic Development Bank, this initiative will also use the IAEA-supported techniques and will lead to the development of an artificial insemination and reproduction network in the region, she added.

The application of nuclear techniques developed by the IAEA to monitor reproductive hormones, using nuclear and nuclear-derived  techniques such as RIA and ELISA, has resulted in a better understanding of the reproductive physiology of livestock species, in identifying and ameliorating limiting factors affecting reproductive efficiency.

Cameroon’s government is reaching out to extend support to breeding centres in Burkina-Faso, Benin, Central African Republic and Chad to increase the proportion of dairy animals through the use of semen from genetically superior animals through artificial insemination.

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