Biotechnology: Adoption Of Genetically Modified Food Imminent

The successful introduction of genetically modified cotton in the northern regions would pave the way for trials on other cereals nationwide as a measure to curb food insecurity.

The progressive introduction of Genetically modified organisms (GMO) in Cameroon that started since 2012 has been smooth, Dr. David Akuroh Mbah, Chief Research Officer at the Cameroon Academy of Sciences, has disclosed.

The testing on cotton in the northern regions is expected to be completed this year, and it is likely that the next trials would be carried out on genetically modified cereals such as rice, maize and sorghum for eventual large scale cultivation that would boost agricultural yields and curb food insecurity.

The ongoing field trial on genetically modified cotton is carried out by Sodecoton. They started with confined trails in 2012 and moved on to open field trials in 2015 under the watchful eyes of the National Biosafety Committee and the Competent National Authority in the Ministry of Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development.

The open field trials, according to the authorization from government, had to run from 2015 to 2018. “The report on the trials is not yet published, but I can assure everything is on the right track. Bad news flies faster than good news, if something had gone wrong, everyone would have been aware,” Dr Akuroh Mbah told CT.

Farmers in Cameroon have been growing new crop varieties for years through selective breeding. They plant hybrid seeds fabricated through cross-pollination of two different but related crops. Some of the improved varieties are created by IRAD while others are imported by government and distributed to farmers. For instance, government is said to have invested closed to FCFA 60 billion on hybrid maize seeds between 2009 and 2014...



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