Think two wrongs don’t make a right? Meet radiation breeding, a method of modifying crops by zapping them with gamma rays. While “radiation” and “modify” are unpleasant words to many, “I’m not doing anything different from what nature does. I’m not using anything that was not in the genetic material itself,” says plant breeder Pierre Lagoda. The practice — which is to be thanked for red grapefruit, black currants, and whiskey-bound premium barley — leaves no residual radiation and is an entirely different process than genetic modification, which splices foreign genetic material into plants. Radiation breeding is widely used in the developing world and can improve taste, quality, yield, size, climate flexibility, and disease resistance in plants; it will certainly be called upon in a future of overpopulation, exhausted soil, depleted water, and costly food, oil, and fertilizer. Spreading the practice, says Lagoda, “is very gratifying because we really, really help people.”