Philippines showcases nuclear application in medical, agricultural sectors

Philippines  medical nuclear application
Nuclear science and technology in the country help key sectors in the society such as agriculture, health, and industry, including the prospects of nuclear power.

The Philippines’ use of nuclear technology application in the medical and agricultural sectors were showcased in the recent 48th Atomic Energy Week celebration (AEW).

The AEW which kicked-off on December 7, 2020, had government officials and lawmakers underscoring the significant contributions of various nuclear-related research and technologies, which improved the products and services in the medical and agriculture sectors.

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According to Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña, nuclear science and technology (S&T) continue to contribute to various developments in health, livelihood, public order, agriculture, and the future prosperity of the country.

“Nuclear and radiation applications have long since (been) proven instrumental in various applications. These include raising the yield of our crops, diagnosing and treating various diseases, and improving the competitiveness of our products,” said de la Peña.

In fact, DOST-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) has been spearheading new frontier research on nuclear and radiation applications in the Philippines that have potential contributions to the economic and societal progress.

The DOST-PNRI Director Carlo A. Arcilla said that they have been harnessing the benefits of nuclear far beyond power generation.

“We are proud at DOST-PNRI spearheading another great leap in our country’s nuclear medicine capabilities. With enough support, PET-CT and Cyclotron facilities will arise here in Quezon City, which will make diseases like cancer more affordable to Filipinos.

Dir. Arcilla also added that DOST-PNRI continues to apply the unique advantage of nuclear for noble applications. These include increasing crop yield with irrigation process and formulas, extracting uranium from seawater, and developing native fabrics for treating wastewater.

He also shared that DOST-PNRI is looking forward to expanding irradiation processing as a whole with the upgrading of COBALT-60 into a fully-automated facility.

“While the COBALT-60 was for the longest time the only facility of its kind in the Philippines, we are proud to report that technology adaptors are now planning to establish their own commercial irradiators in different parts of the country,” said Dir. Arcilla.

Meanwhile, in her video message, Senator Nancy Binay said that nuclear and radiation research products had far-reaching effects on society yet, the value of nuclear research beyond power generation are often overlooked.

“The ongoing COVID pandemic has emphasized how crucial nuclear technology is, not only in protecting and improving our way of life but in safeguarding our life itself,” said Sen. Binay.

She cited the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test as an example, which is a key element in the government’s efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 is a nuclear application, and its derived techniques continue to serve as reliable tools in investigating, detecting, preventing, and containing the outbreak of various diseases.

Meanwhile, Sen. Binay also said that there is overgrowing evidence of how isotope and radiation techniques contribute to our agriculture and guarantee food security.

“Through these, we were able to help our farmers through the development of crop varieties that yield more and can withstand pests’ diseases and harsher effects of climate change,” Sen. Binay added.

The AEW virtual celebration wrapped up on December 11 with the theme, “Agham at Teknolohiyang Pangnukleyar: Sandigan ng Kalusugan, Kaayusan, Kabuhayan at Kinabukasan.” It highlighted the latest developments in the local nuclear S&T and its role in addressing the pressing problems through virtual fora and exhibits.

The annual AEW celebration is mandated under Presidential Proclamation 1211 in 1973, which aims to generate awareness on the safe and beneficial uses of nuclear S&T.

Filipino women nuclear scientists were honored on International Women’s Month 2020 including Dr. Lucille Abad, the promoter of peaceful use for nuclear technology hailed for her research on the Carrageenan Plant Growth Promoter.

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