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It is not true that GMO tomato has pig gene – Foundation boss

GMO crops can be replanted, enhance bumper harvest

Abuja – Dr. Issoutou Abdurhamane, Regional Director, African Agricultural Technology Foundations (AATF), has clarified that Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) crops can be replanted, urging farmers and other stakeholders to ignore propaganda against GMOs.

Abdurhamane made the clarification on Sunday when he led a team to feature on News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja.

According to him, because GMO plants produce bumper yields, critics of biotechnology are promoting a lot of propaganda, including allegation that GMO plants cannot be replanted by farmer.

Tomatoes

He said such allegations were unfounded and challenged anyone to refute his claim.

The foundation boss called on Nigerians to ask questions from the teeming population of biotechnologists in the country, given the large proportion of reputable agricultural institutions in the country.

Responding to a question on any impediment towards replanting GMO crops by farmers, Abdurhamane dismissed such claim.

“That is absolutely not correct, it is another lie. You can plant the same GMO crop, seed after seed, year after year, as long as you want.

“It is an absolute lie which has been invented to scare farmers and many decision makers. It has no biological basis.

“There was a story of something called `Terminators’ people have used. Terminator gene is not used in any cultivated crop in the world.

“When you hear things you don’t understand, before you verify, take it with a pinch of salt and say “let me ask’’.

“There are professors of biotechnology in Nigeria a lot. There are a lot of agricultural professors, ask them.

“Try to see agricultural professors. Because there are many agricultural universities in Nigeria, there are many biotechnologists in Nigeria.

“When you hear some of this propaganda, just take it, note it. But call the experts and ask them, “Is this true?” Because there are a lot of lies which have been disseminated,” he added.

Abdurhamane therefore urged Nigerian policy makers to increase their support for GMOs so that the nation could achieve food security while also promoting cleaner environment.

“If farmers fully embrace GMO, there will be no need to spend on field and storage pesticide by farmers and produce sellers,” he added.

The AATF boss also debunked allegation that pig gene was used in producing tomato GMO seedlings and commended Nigerians, especially Muslim community for ignoring such falsehood.

“It is not true that GMO tomato has pig gene, it is a product of the same gene used in developing papaya resistance gene.

“The aim was to unleash Muslim community in Nigeria against biotechnology agencies in the country, accusing them of bringing tomato which has pig gene,” he said.

Similarly, Dr. Rose Gidado, Country Coordinator, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), corroborated Abdurahamane’s position.

“Initially, genes were harvested from the pancreas of pigs, but with the new technology, it is no longer like that.

“Genes are now being harvested from human pancreas and now inserted in a bacterium that has gene in it, which is safe for human consumption,” she said.

NAN reports that Abdurhamane was accompanied by Dr. Francis Onyeaka of AATF and Gidado.

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