Biotechnology key to food security – experts


…say GMO products aren’t harmful to humans

Experts in the agricultural sector have encouraged Malawians to embrace agricultural biotechnology saying it is key to the country’s increased agricultural productivity hopes and the realisation of 2063 agenda.

Lyson Kampira who is the Chief Research Officer at National Commission for Science and Technology (NCST) made the remarks on Wednesday 14th June, 2023 after Biotechnology training workshop for journalists in Blantyre.

Kampira underscored the need for Malawian farmers to adopt the use of agricultural science to develop new and modified products which he said may help to increase agricultural productivity which is part of the 2063 national agenda.

He added that increased agricultural productivity is possible because Genetic Modified Organism (GMOs) are disease and drought-resistant plants that require fewer environmental resources (such as water and fertilizer) and usesless pesticides.

“One of 2063 agenda is agricultural diversification and increased agricultural productivity. With increased agricultural productivity you are looking at minimisation of diseases and pests which affect crops in the agriculture sector.

“Biotechnology is one of the areas which have a very specific target in terms of managing pests and diseases instead of using chemicals which wipe out most living orgasms. The feeling is if we embrace biotechnology it means each crop will be able internally to protect itself from pests and diseases and enhance production,” said Kampira.

Concurrently, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUARNAR) senior lecturer, Dr. Abel Sefasi said this agricultural science is as well a solution to climate change challenges which has hit hard the global.

Sefasi said the fall army worms which earlier hit winter crops in the southern region in the aftermath of Cyclone Freddy, could have been dealt with if Malawi and those farmers in particular had a GMO variety of maize that is resistant to fall army worms.

He also trashed fears and myths of biotechnology products being dangerous for human consumption, saying biotechnology feed has been consumed for over 30 years with no single record of any healthy issues related to the science.

The scientist articulated that most of the myths about biotechnology products are not scientific, saying that most of them border on economics perspectives and international politics and has since assured Malawians of total safety of GMO feed.

“Biotech feed has been consumed from late 1990s and there is no one who has reported that they have cancer because of eating GMO food. Most of these animals especially poultry are fed GMO soya beans, so, the chickens are not sick and people who are eating those chickens are not sick for over 30 years now.

“Up to now there is no evidence that GMOs have caused allergenicity, toxicity, cancer, loss of food nutrition, these have not been proved by any authentic scientist,” said Sefasi.

Meanwhile, journalists in the country have been implored to take a leading role in clearing such myths and misconception by using the skills they have gained from the training in educating the public about biotechnology

Of late, cotton, banana and cowpeas are the only three crops that were granted permit for trials in Malawi from which only cotton was granted authorisation.

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