Nigeria poised to become GMO superpower

The Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS), declared this week that genetically-modified foods are safe for consumption. The academy noted that the technology, although it does concern some, would be useful to the country because of its potential to boost the nation’s agriculture, which could help address food insecurity.

Nigeria is now poised to join Egypt, Burkina Faso, South Africa and Sudan as the only nations in Africa to cultivate genetically engineered crops. Although no GE crops are presently being grown commercially, the government has sanctioned several trials, which if successful could result in the greenlighting of insect-resistant Bt cotton, cowpea (a legume) and corn; disease resistant and Vitamin A cassava; and nitrogen and water efficient rice.

There is also strong and growing support in the farming community for the use of GMOs, said Chris Onwuka, the National Vice President of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFN). “The truth is that without biotechnology, we cannot feed ourselves…. By 2030, Nigeria’s population will have crossed 250 million. Without a technological intervention, and with a continuous decrease in arable land due to urbanization, desertification and erosion of farmer’s yield are only going to decrease.”

If the rollout schedule goes as planned, Nigeria could open the door to a fresh wave of crop biotechnology introductions throughout the continent. 

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