Nigeria and Ghana have organized a joint press briefing on the consumption of first genetically modified BT cowpea and other genetically modified organisms (GMO), with a view to enhance scientific bilateral collaboration so as to boost food security in West Africa.
The Director-General, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, at the joint press briefing in Abuja, disclosed that the agency had proven its potential to help overcome challenges of agricultural productivity through application of biotechnology.
Producing a GMO is much more target way of producing desired biological products by inserting a gene or two individual cells in a lab, leading to change in genetic code unlike conventional breeding that involves crossing of different organisms, which has been going on for centuries.
Mustapha recounted that biotechnology journey in the country began 21 years ago, adding that NABDA is in forefront of deploying and domesticating the technology in the four sectors of the economy across agriculture, health, environment and industry – in order to respond positively to national aspirations on food security, job/wealth creation and affordable healthcare delivery.
Dr. Emmanuel Marfor from Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Ghana, while speaking disclosed that Ghana had endorsed Nigeria’s research on genetically modified crops that had a long history of several attempts by crop breeders.
“Farmers in African countries cannot attain the yield potential of our popular legumes when compared to other parts of the world. While farmers in the Americas, West and Asia are getting over 10 tonnes per hectare for maize, our farmers are still struggling to attain four tonnes per hectare”.
“Biotechnology is adopted and accepted globally and is on the rise, and even countries such as Great Britain, which the anti-technology crusaders have continued to cite as against the technology, has fully come on board with new law on gene edited crops.”