Farmers Growing GM Crops
While promoters of GMOs work to counter criticisms and reassure safety, our investigation finds that Farmers Growing of GM Crops safety concerns are not the only challenge hindering the implementation of the new variety.
On a recent afternoon, a dozen smallholder farmers gathered at Eziokwu village in Anambra State, alongside their colleague, Emmanuel Osondu, who was billed to share his experience after participating in the genetically modified cowpea farming experiment.
Mr Osondu, an indigene of the densely populated farming community of Eziokwu in Ndikelionwu town of the South-east state, was among farmers selected from across Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to participate in the trial phase of the Pod Borer Resistant (PBR) cowpea project.
“I used to spray insecticides at least five times on the normal cowpea yet the crop will still be eaten by insects before harvest. But this one I sprayed only once, and it did very well. I harvested about two months after planting and the yield was impressive.
“They gave me half a cup and I harvested three painter buckets. If I planted the same amount of normal beans, I would have harvested only one painter,” the farmer said, adding that the new cowpea variety does not only look good in the eye but is also delicious to eat.
He said many farmers around the area witnessed the high performance of the crop hence the gathering that Sunday afternoon. “The rapid growth of the crop amazed everybody,” he said.
“We saw it with our own eyes. The beans (BT cowpea) did very well. I would like to plant it myself,” a bearded young man among the group of farmers said as others took turns to give mostly positive reviews about the Bt cowpea.
Amid the upbeat mood, there was an awkward silence when the farmers were asked what they knew about the new variety of cowpea, where it came from, and how it was engineered.
Within the past decade, the adoption of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), commonly referred to as GM seeds by crop farmers has been a subject of debate among scientists, environmentalists and even food activists in Nigeria and globally.
The question of what role, if any, GMOs should play in helping to address a range of agriculture, nutrition, and climatic challenges in developing countries like Nigeria has been at the centre of discussions.
Concerns have been raised over the environmental and health impacts of GMOs, as well as their impact on traditional farming methods and issues around seed patents, and farmers being dependent on corporations.
Governments in developing nations are responding to those concerns in a variety of ways with some banning GMOs outright, some embracing the technology, and others attempting to find balance between the concerns and needs of all sides.
According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), at least 33 major food crops have been genetically modified globally. Of these, four (maize, cowpea, cotton and soybean) have been officially approved for commercialization by the Nigerian authorities, with Nigeria listed among the six African countries leading in biotech crop adoption in the continent.
Source: This news is originally published by allafrica