BT Cowpea: AATF urges Nigeria to maintain giant lead

The African Agricultural Technology Foundation  (AATF) has charged Nigeria not to rest on her laurels as the first country in the world to approve biotechnology for cowpea.

AATF Regional Manager, Abuja, and Head of Cowpea, Dr. Issoufou Abdourhamane who made this charge in Abuja, urged the country to maintain the lead by managing the crop’s gene.

According to Abdourhamane, plant breeders and pathologists over the years had the knowledge that not all resistance was durable and scientists were aware way back since the 1920s, noting that some genes might not last long.

In his words, “resistant genes have to be managed since one cannot rely on a single gene, and Nigeria’s approved BT Cowpea can be sustainable if properly managed. If genes have to be managed with the use of control methods such as quality gene pyramiding, the probability for the gene to fail in five years is 1%.”

Abdourhamane also recommended the use of more than one gene in a crop, saying“if two genes are used, the probability for the two genes to fail together is almost zero.”

“I want farmers and extension workers to know that there is nothing like terminator genes in any Genetically Modified (GM) crops released anywhere in the world. Anti-GM groups claim terminator genes are added in crops, so that if farmers plant, they can save the seed because in the next harvest and it may become steroid,” he added.

Abdourhamane further noted, “there has never been anything like that in any GM crop released anywhere in the world. It is a baseless story fabricated by anti-GM groups to scare farmers which are all lies and falsehood.”

Recent report by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, on the Global Status of Commercialised Biotech/GM Crops, listed Nigeria among the notable producing countries of cowpea across the globe.


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