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Nigeria Approves Its First Researched GMO Food Crop

Nigeria Approves its First GMO Food Crop
After nearly a decade of research by its own scientists, Nigeria has finally approved its first genetically modified (GM) food crop which is known as pest-resistant cowpea.

The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) decision to allow the environmental release of GM cowpea was due to the crop’s safety as it has been tested and confirmed. 
It also paves the way for commercializing GM cowpea and making the seeds available to farmers across the country.

Cowpea is the most important food grain legume in Nigeria,” Prof. Ibrahim Abubakar said. 
The Prof who's also the executive director of the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, led the research with his research team.

The low yield of the crop in Nigeria is due to many constraints, particularly pod boring insects, which cause up to 90 percent yield loss in severe infestation cases.”

Cowpea is an important source of protein for millions of Nigerians and others in West Africa.

Farmers typically apply six or seven pesticides within a planting season in an attempt to control the destructive pod borer (Maruca vitrata) pest.

The GM cowpea, which also provides built-in resistance to the insect, will significantly decrease pesticide use.

It will also increase yields by about 20 percent, helping Nigeria to reduce its reliance on imports and achieve food security. 
Nigeria currently imports about 500,000 tonnes of cowpea annually to meet demand.

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