Seeds sent into space last year returned to Earth on 15 April 2023 in a new milestone for joint efforts by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to develop resilient crops that can help provide sufficient food as the planet heats up.

Plants naturally evolve to thrive in their surroundings, but crops have been struggling to keep up with the current pace of climate change. The world is warmer and the global population is increasing, causing farmers around the world to struggle to meet food demand. To support these farmers and improve global food security, the IAEA and FAO, through their Joint FAO/IAEA Centre of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture, sent seeds into space to explore the effects of cosmic radiation on speeding up natural, genetic adaptation of much needed crops. Their return to Earth paves the way for scientists to start analyzing the results.

The seeds will undergo a phytosanitary import process that is a standard requirement for the transport of plant material across country borders to minimize the risk of introducing new pests, before final arrival at the laboratories.

(Source: International Atomic Energy Agency – IAEA;