The Acting Director General of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Alex Ekpa has advocated the use of modern biotechnology in food production to boost the environment and economy of Nigeria.
Speaking at a Stakeholders meeting in Abuja, Ekpa noted that, “decades of documented evidence demonstrates that agricultural biotechnology is a safe and beneficial technology that contributes to both environmental and economic sustainability and have the potentials of increasing yields and lowering production costs”.
He stated that “farmers will get a greater financial return while using more environmentally friendly farming practice through the use of Agricultural biotechnology.
“Herbicide tolerant varieties will dramatically reduce farmers reliance on pesticide application : since 1997, the use of pesticides on global biotech crop acreage has been reduced by 790 million pounds, an 8.8 percent reduction”.
The DG further stated that “Africa is obviously one of the most affected continents in the adoption of GM crops due to a considerable number of factors hindering the development of GM crops technology. A study carried out by Ezezika et al., 2012 on specific stakeholder groups indicated that distrust of the private sector, cultural and religious issues, and so many other factors have led to the slow adoption of biotechnology crops in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Climate change is also exacerbating pest outbreaks. Cassava is affected increasingly by viral diseases, for which improved varieties are currently under development with African and international stakeholders “.
“To address climate change more directly, specific crops need genetic improvement in order to have higher thermal tolerance, so as to continue to yield even during heat waves. For maximum impact, the technology must be applied alongside other best agronomic practices and technology steward “ he stated.
Also at the meeting, the President National Biotechnology and Biosafety Consortium (NBBC), Prof. Celestine Aguoru noted that, “it is true that modern biotechnology (Genetic Engineering) has been beneficial to agriculture, medicine, environment, poverty reduction and the economy generally in developing nations “.
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