According to a Principle Investigator of the Council for Science and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr Mumuni Abdulai, field tests of the genetically modified cowpea (beans) have produced favorable results and therefore will be released market wide in 2018.
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According to Dr. Mumuni, who is also the Deputy Director of the Savannah Agriculture Research Institute of the CSIR, the field tests faze is a necessary faze in the regulatory process that precedes the product's release into the market.
Speaking to Joy News' Joseph Opoku Gakpo, Dr. Mumumni expressed that field tests had reached an advanced state, and that the intent was to make the release of the GMO cowpea both in Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria simultaneous.
“We have gone far now,” said Dr. Mumuni.
Dr. Mumuni, the GMO crop has been developed to include genes from a natural pest killing bacteria called Bacillus thuringiesis. This makes the GMO cowpea much more resilient crop compared to it's naturally occurring counterpart, who's farmers usually suffer heavy losses due to a very resistant and destructive pest, the Maruca pod-bearer.
He, Dr. Mumuni, stressed that the GMO product would be beneficial for farmers as it would not need as much pesticides compared to it's natural cousin.
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“If you are able to reduce the number of sprays from 8 to 2, that is very good benefit for the farmer. In terms of saving him the cost for pesticide purchase and also saving him the risk from pesticide usage,” he said.
“It is clear that the resistance is there. You can see it. We have invited farmers to see it, and they all testify that it is a very good material. It yields higher when you have the gene in it than without the gene,” Dr Mumuni added.
Dr. Mumuni expressed optimism in the data his outfit gathered, and said he was confident that it would be enough to get regulators to green the product for commercial release.
“We have generated enough data that will be evaluated by the regulators and I believe with the data we have generated over the years, it can pass for release,” he said.
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