James Emejo in Abuja
The Executive Director, African AAgricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Dr. Denis Kyetere, has insisted that the genetically modified cowpea variety of beans known as Sampea 20-T, is safe for consumption without any known side effects.
His assurance followed the commercial launch yesterday in Kano of the pod borer resistant cowpea which had been on trial in Nigeria.
Kyetere had at the virtual press conference on the pre-launch of the PBR cowpea in the country said the technology had no known adverse effects on human.
He stressed that the new beans variety is as safe as the conventional cowpea, which is grown without any genetic alterations.
According to him, “The effects that are with this PBR cowpea are the same with the conventional cowpea.
“If somebody is allergic to the conventional cowpea, the person will be allergic to this one as well. But it is as safe as the conventional cowpea.”
The clarification will help douse concerns about the safety of food grown through genetic permutations.
This came as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said the commercialisation of pod borer resistant cowpea by Nigeria represented tremendous progress in applying innovative approaches to advance food security.
The General Development Officer, Biotechnology Specialist, USAID Bureau for Resilience and Food Security Centre for Agriculture-Led Growth, Dr. Faith B. Tarr, said at the unveiling of the new variety that “we celebrate the completion of a critical stage within a continuous, iterative process by which new food security innovations are developed, disseminated, adopted, and used in order to enhance prosperity, resilience, and nutrition.”
Essentially SAMPEA 20-T is a new beans variety bred to resist the notorious insect pest, Maruca Vitrata, that causes up to 80 per cent yield loses on the farm.
The technology was developed by scientists at the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Also, the IAR Executive Director, Prof. Mohammad Ishiyaku, said the new beans variety was a significant scientific and economic achievement for the improvement of the production of beans for Nigerians.
Meanwhile, the President, of the All-Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Mr. Kabiru Ibrahim, said about eight million farmers and their families would benefit directly from cultivating the newly launched cowpea variety.