Brazil to Use Irradiation in Fruits and Vegetables for Export

A new technology capable of controlling pests in products of vegetable origin without affecting the products may soon be adopted in Brazil.

The technology is ionizing irradiation, which consists in irradiating the products with electron energy sources, a type of light capable of eliminating the structures of pests, insects, mites, bacteria, and even viruses.

The Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture held at the end of last month a meeting to discuss the proposed Normative Instruction that will regulate the use of ionizing irradiation.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the National Nuclear Energy Council (CENEN), the Center of Nuclear Energy in Agriculture (CENA), and researchers from the University of São Paulo (USP).

The ministry’s coordinator of vegetable transport inspection, Fernando Costa, said that the method will be used as "a sanitary treatment for plant products for quarantine purposes," that is, only for the elimination of pests that might be harmful to export and import products. If it is approved, the irradiation will be used in foreign trade operations passing through the country’s ports and airports.

According to Costa, various countries use this method to control pests in vegetable products. The advantage, he says, is that the irradiation does not leave residues in the products, if applied in the recommended doses. This is not the case with the use of pesticides, for example.

The benefit comes with a high price tag: The technology tends to be expensive, since it requires modern equipment and trained personnel to monitor the security of the process.

According to Costa, the new technology will allow Brazil to have access to new markets, especially for fresh fruit. Mangoes are one of the fruits that can be benefited by the process.

Costa affirms that Brazil exported 115,00 tons of mangoes to foreign markets in 2005 alone and earned US$ 76 million from this activity.

ABr

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