The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has begun building a new laboratory that will enable it to help countries to use nuclear techniques to control insect pests, including mosquitoes. The construction is part of the Renovation of the Nuclear Applications Laboratories project (ReNuAL), which aims to upgrade the eight IAEA Nuclear Sciences and Applications laboratories in Seibersdorf, Austria, which began operating in 1962. “ReNuAL is one of the most important projects in the Agency’s 60-year history,” said IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano. “The laboratories are unique within the United Nations system in providing member states with direct access to scientific training, technology and analytical services. More than 150 of our member states benefit from them.” He added that modernisation will significantly increase the Agency’s ability assist members.
The project is getting under way with the construction of a new Insect Pest Control Laboratory, due to be completed by the end of 2017. The laboratory is responsible for the development and application of the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), developed jointly with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The SIT uses irradiation to sterilize insects in order to suppress pest populations.
ReNuAL has a budget of €31m ($34.5m), a third of which comes from the Agency’s regular budget and the remainder from voluntary contributions pledged or provided by more than 60 member states. It also involves the building of the Flexible Modular Laboratory, an additional new building in Seibersdorf that will house laboratories working in the areas of food and environmental protection, as well as soil and water management and crop nutrition. The project also will provide for new infrastructure on site to support the new buildings, as well as new equipment that is urgently needed by the laboratories.