Consumers of genetically modified (GM) beans, the pod borer insect resistant variety, on Thursday, April 7, 2022, in Abuja testified that it tasted same with the local and popular variety.
The consumers gave their testimonies at the Mobile Kitchen Campaign for Pod Borer Resistant Cowpea, tagged, “Eating is Believing”, held at the headquarters of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA).
A student of the University of Abuja, Mathew Ukwuasu, testified that after consuming the variety, he couldn’t tell the difference in taste between the local and the pod borer variety.
He said he was now better informed about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and biotechnology.
Another consumer, Ms Winifred Adejo, said she could also not tell the difference between the beans she was used to eating and the one she was served with at the event.
“The taste is really natural and it’s impossible to tell which one is genetically modified and which is not,’’ Adejo said.
Mr Emmanuel Nwankwo said he was happy to have a taste of the new variety of beans which tasted “just like the normal beans.’’
Nwankwo recommended that the variety should be used to boost local food production and distributed all over the country.
Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, Director-General, NABDA, said that the pod border variety was developed in Nigeria by Nigerian scientists, cultivated and produced in Nigeria.
Mustapha said the variety was very safe to eat and was also an important component of the human system.
“The variety will facilitate the eradication of hunger and eradication of malnutrition, the value chain runs down, not just the farmers but from the food vendors.
“The food vendors outside have cooked up to five varieties and the essence is that biotechnology is a science that can be delivered from the laboratory down to the stomach,’’ he said.
Mustapha called on skeptics of the technology to debunk any misconception they harboured about genetic engineering and embrace the truth which was being demonstrated.
He said that the truth was that GMOs were safe for consumption without any side effects, instead the body would get nourished.
The director-general said that he encouraged all farmers, consumers and advocates of GMOs to continue the good work until all Nigerians adequately and conveniently embrace the technology.
Mustapha said the technology would aid food security and enhance nutrition in Nigeria.
He said biotechnology has proven its potential to help Nigeria overcome agricultural productivity challenges leading to more yield.
Speaking, Dr Rose Gidado, Country Coordinator of Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), gave a brief history of the launch of the mobile kitchen campaign for pod borer resistant cowpea.
“The Bt cowpea mobile kitchen campaign is an advocacy tagged: Eating is Believing and is meant to demonstrate the safety and nutrition effects of Bt cowpea.
“It is also to increase consumer awareness of Bt cowpea and fake products,’’ she said.
Gidado, also Deputy Director at the NABDA, explained that the campaign would serve as a source that promote and support the consumption of the new variety.
She listed the objectives of the campaign to include, to assure consumers of the safety of the PBR beans, to increase market and consumer acceptance.
She said it was also to increase stakeholders, especially small farmers’ awareness of the benefits of the new variety of beans, among others.
The event was attended by Ghanaian parliamentarians on a study visit, regulators, policy makers, scientists and farmers, among others.
By Sylvester Thompson