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Argentina and Chile fight Fruit Flies with nuclear technology

In 2019, Chile experienced one of its largest outbreaks of Mediterranean fruit flies. It cost the economy approximately US$ 5 million. Outbreaks can be caused by the movement of people and fruit from countries where the medfly is present. That is why, in 2020, Chile’s Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG), in collaboration with Argentina’s National Food Safety and Quality Service (SENASA), the IAEA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), decided to apply the sterile insect technique (SIT) as a preventive measure.

In the north of the country, at Arica, Chile is producing sterile flies to be released over areas at risk of outbreaks in the Metropolitan Region of Santiago. These locally produced sterile flies are complemented with imported medflies from a facility in Argentina. By mating with the wild female population, the sterile insects reduce the number of offspring, resulting in rapid gradual elimination. When used as preventive measures, they eliminate emerging populations as soon as they arise.


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