Biotech Updates

IITA Begins Confined Field Trials of Transgenic Cassava

January 10, 2018

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), in collaboration with  ETH Zurich Plant Biotechnology Lab has started the confined field trials of transgenic cassava. The research aims to reduce starch breakdown in storage roots of cassava after pruning the shoots, before the crop is harvested. It is also a fact-gathering process to gain fundamental knowledge about starch metabolism in the storage root and about cassava as a crop.

Cassava is an important food crop in sub-Saharan Africa as well as other tropical and subtropical regions, but cassava farmers face high level of postharvest loss caused by rapid deterioration of the starch-rich roots which occurs naturally after harvesting. The project aims to address this through cassava plant cultivar 60444 generated in ETH Zurich using RNAi to reduce starch breakdown in the root after pruning of the shoots.

The CFT permit was issued by the National Biosafety Management Agency in accordance with the National Biosafety Agency Act 2015,  for the period September 22, 2017 to December 31, 2018. IITA adheres strictly to national and international biosafety standards and will ensure that these are enforced during the trials, which will be carried out within the IITA campus in Ibadan, Nigeria. The cassava plants from the confined field trial are not destined for the market nor for commercial development, and therefore will not be consumed. And according to national regulations, all plants will be destroyed within the CFT site after analysis.

For more details, read the IITA News.