Since the mid-20th century, radiation has been employed to induce mutations in agricultural crops. Radioactive disaster sites such as Chernobyl display an increase in genetic variation as do the test fields and â€˜gamma gardensâ€™ of the many national radiation breeding programs around the world. These mutagenic breeding programs have occasionally yielded plants with commercially valuable mutations.
Mutagenic Mist allows visitors to taste one of the most commercially successful radiation-bred foods in the world. An edible, smellable mist is served by firing a vortex cannon. This mist contains a peppermint oil made from Toddâ€™s Mitcham peppermint. Approved in the 1970s, Todd’s Mitcham was radiation bred to be disease resistant and comprises the bulk of the worldâ€™s 5,000 ton-plus annual consumption of peppermint oil.*
* Ahloowali, B.S. (2004). “Global impact of mutation-derived varieties”. Euphytica 135: 187â€“204.
Photos: Patrick Bolger