AATF tasks Nigeria on Cowpea gene management

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The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) says Nigeria should maintain its lead as the first country in the world to approve biotech cowpea by managing the crop’s gene.

Dr Issoufou Abdourhamane, the AATF Regional Manager, Abuja and Head of Cowpea project, made the call in Abuja.

Abdourhamane said plant breeders and pathologists over the years, had known that not all resistance were durable and scientists were also aware since 1920s, some genes might not last long.

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,’’ he said.

According to the AATF Head of cowpea project, a single control technique cannot be relied upon; hence there the need for back up and integration.

If genes have to be managed with the use of control method such as quality gene pyramiding, the probability for the gene to fail in five years is one per cent,’’ he said.

He advised 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, it may become steroid.

“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,’’ Abdourhamane said.

A report on Global Status of Commercialised Biotech/GM Crops, released on Aug. 22 by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, listed the country  among the world cowpea producing country.