Atomic Gardens: Salt. Pepper. Radiation?






Special to Food Nation Radio 

From the Food Nation Radio Archives:

Atomic gardening is a form of selective mutation that uses exposure to radiation in order to create useful mutations in a food. The scheme began in the 1950’s as an alternative use for fission energy. Post-World War 2 efforts of using radiation to mutate foods didn’t fizzle out the way they could have. Forms of atomic gardening are still used to this day to try to influence the growth of a certain seed or produce in a way that humans deem beneficial.

The history of atomic gardening

The idea, as mentioned, took off in the 1950’s. While scientists were exploring the effects of radiation on food as early as 1920, the farming method didn’t catch on until a few decades later.

Atomic energy has been a source of great interest ever since the end of the Second World War. Scientists and researchers believe it to have valuable potential, far away from weaponry.

In the 1960’s, Atomic Gardening had become more widespread. Europe, The Soviet Union and the United States were all doing their own forms of testing. As the years progressed, different environments were created in order to study whether or not results changed.

Over twenty different atomic farms were created worldwide. By the 1970’s, even Asia had begun their own forms of research using Cobalt-60 to try and influence favorable mutations in seeds. The goal among authorities was to create even more locations for selective breeding to take place.

But, by the mid-80’s, interest in atomic energy waned slightly, as nations explored other ways of creating mutations. While the method still has its relevance in society, it’s less commonly used now by western countries. Asia still maintains their atomic gardens, and are even increasing the amount they have. Recently, a new development in Malaysia became one of the biggest gardens in the world.

Foods that have been most affected

Genetically Modified foods are subject to heightened controversy at the moment. As people take more of an interest in what they eat, the idea of putting something in their mouth that has had its DNA scientifically altered concerns some.

DNA splicing is the modern form of the atomic garden. It acts as a cheap and easy way to produce mass amounts of crops, and maximizes company profits.

Frequent foods found in the modern day diet can be traced back to the atomic garden. Peppermint flavoring being an extremely common one. The Rio Star grapefruit, a type of grapefruit seen in Texas, also traces its ancestry back the gardening scheme. It shows how vast the mutation methods were, as 75% of all Texas grapefruits are now of the Rio Star variety.

There are believed to be thousands of foods in circulation that have had their DNA altered using this process. Different varieties of rice, corn, wheat, peas, cotton, seeds, bananas and nuts have all been altered by genetic modification. The idea was that they’d become disease resistant, and form a cheap and reliable food source for years to come.

The missing link is the lack of adequate testing and feeding studies on humans. We don’t know what these foods do to OUR DNA.

About elizabethd

Elizabeth Dougherty has been cooking and writing about food intensively for more than ten years. She is the fourth generation of chefs and gourmet grocers in her family with her mother, Francesca Esposito and grandmother, Carmella being major influences in her early cooking years. As a teenager, her family sent her to Europe where she became focused on French and Italian cuisine. She survived a year and half of culinary tutelage under a maniacal Swiss-German chef and is a graduate of NYIT, Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality, Business and Labor Relations. Food Nation Radio has won two news awards for content. Broadcasting LIVE each week, nationwide, on and stations around the country.

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