From Aidoghie Paulinus, Kano
The Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN) has dismissed reports that genetically improved crop varieties are harmful.
ARCN Director of Partnerships and Linkages, Mr Yarama Ndirpaya, said the allegations were unfounded, false, mischievous and unpatriotic. There were moves by Nigerians to prevent the introduction of genetically modified cotton and maize into Nigeria’s foods and farming system.
Ndirpaya, who represented the Executive Secretary of the ARCN, Prof. Ambrose Voh, spoke in Kano during a press briefing on Pod Borer Resistant Cowpea, preceding a field assessment of genetically modified beans resistant to pod borer called Maruca, which reduces farmers’ yield as much as 80 percent.
Ndirpaya lamented the development, which alleged health danger of some of the new crop varieties being developed in the national research institutes by Nigerian scientists, in spite of the achievements of research institutions in the country towards the development of agriculture in Nigeria.
“I want to inform you that these allegations are unfounded, false, mischievous and unpatriotic. The originators of such misinformation have tried to destabilise the country and failed. They are now targeting the crux of the economic policy of this government; that is, turnaround of the agriculture sector,” Ndirpaya said.
He assured Nigerians that no product of the research institutes, under the watchful eyes of ARCN and the leadership of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, will be harmful or have adverse effect on the health of Nigerians.
Also speaking, the Principal Investigator of the Pod Borer Resistant Cowpea, Prof Mohammed Ishiaku of the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna state, also bemoaned reports that the new cowpea would destroy kidney and liver.
“I don’t know who ate this cowpea, to start with, to conclude it can destroy liver or kidney. Who ate it? I am the only one who has this cowpea in this country.
“So, the person who wrote it, how did he know that it will affect kidney? Did he eat it? Ladies and gentlemen, this is the beginning of this hoax these individuals are trying to promote. This thing does not exist; it is a very big lie,” Ishiaku said.