MOSCOW, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- A variety of crops successfully grown and harvested on the International Space Station have been verified as safe to eat, a Russian scientist says.
Space-based agriculture has long been of interest, as plants not only scrub carbon dioxide exhaled by astronauts but could be a renewable food source, scientists have said.
"The experiments with peas have been very promising," Margarita Levinskikh, a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Problems, told an annual space conference in Moscow in describing the ISS "farming."
Russian cosmonauts have grown Japanese leafy greens and a variety of dwarf wheat that has produced seeds of "just extraordinary quality," RIA Novosti quoted her as saying.
Russian cosmonauts will sow rice, tomatoes and bell peppers in the station's Lada greenhouse next year, she said, a cooperative effort between the institute and the Space Dynamics Laboratory at Utah State University.
Currently all food onboard the space station is flown there on periodic resupply missions. Long-duration deep space missions without agriculture would require many months' or years' worth of food, greatly adding to their launch weight, the institute said.