GM crop adoption continues to move forward in Africa
Africa continues to make steady progress in the adoption of biotech crops with Nigeria becoming the first country in the world to approve biotech cowpea, thus, adding a new biotech crop to the global biotech basket, according to ISAAA's latest report, Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops in 2018. The Kingdom of eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) joined South Africa and Sudan in planting biotech crops in Africa, with commercial planting of insect resistant (IR) Bt cotton. Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Malawi granted approvals for planting biotech cotton as proof that Africa is ready for biotech crop adoption.
Two launch events were held in Africa, particularly in Nigeria and South Africa. One event was held in Abuja, Nigeria, on August 22, 2019, while the second event happened in Pretoria, South Africa, on August 27, 2019.
The launch in Nigeria was co-organized by ISAAA AfriCenter and the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology-Nigeria (OFAB Nigeria). It was attended by 30 biotech stakeholders comprising top biosafety regulators, communicators, and journalists. The event was presided over by National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) Director General Dr. Rufus Ebegba and National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) Chief Executive Officer Prof. Alex Akpa.
Presenting the highlights of the report, AfriCenter Director Dr. Margaret Karembu hailed Nigeria's progress in biotech crop development and adoption noting that the country is a leader in agricultural technology approvals enabled by an efficient biosafety system. "The world is in a technological advancement trajectory. The green revolution that had taken the world by storm in the second half of the 20th Century is quickly transitioning into gene revolution." Dr. Karembu said. "We are now progressing into genome editing, a more precise and accurate technology to effectively develop more productive, highly nutritious and climate-resilient crops for our rapidly-increasing population," she added.
During the launch in Pretoria, it was revealed that South Africa's average biotech crop adoption rose from 93% in 2017 to 96% in 2018, sustaining its ranking among the top 10 biotech crop countries in the last two decades. The event was organized by AfriCenter in collaboration with Agricultural Writers Association South Africa.