Biotech Updates

Nigeria and Partners Launch Bt Cowpea Nutrition Outreach

December 15, 2021

Nigeria's National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) and the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have rolled out a nutrition outreach program aimed at increasing consumption and boosting the demand of genetically modified Bt cowpea in the country.

The outreach campaign, dubbed ‘Eating is Believing' further seeks to demonstrate the food safety and nutrition effects of Bt cowpea, Nigeria's first biotech food crop. ‘Eating is Believing' also aims at sensitizing the Nigerian population on this new bean variety developed to resist the destructive Maruca pod borer – the bean is otherwise known as pod borer resistant (PBR) cowpea.

The program, launched on December 9, 2021, attracted nutritionists, professional food caterers, food scientists, plant breeders, and farmers. During the launch, stakeholders ate and enjoyed a variety of Nigerian food delicacies made from PBR Bt cowpea to underscore the fact that GM beans are as safe and tasty as conventional varieties.

Speaking during the event, United States' Counsellor for Agricultural Affairs for Nigeria Dr. Gerald Smith observed that Bt cowpea will help the country promote good nutrition while strengthening food security. "Commercializing Bt cowpea was a serious commitment by the Government of Nigeria to boost production and enhance food security," said Dr. Smith.

Dr. Smith said thriving agricultural crops like beans contribute to the overall economic health of a community noting Nigeria is the largest producer and consumer of cowpea. The Agricultural Counsellor cautioned against commonly held misconceptions about biotech crops emphasizing that ‘Eating is Believing' demonstrates that the GM bean tastes the same as the conventional varieties. "There is abundant scientific evidence that there is no nutritional difference between Bt and conventional beans," he explained.

Dr. Rose Gidado, Nigerian Coordinator for the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB), exuded confidence that the outreach program will assure consumers of the safety of PBR cowpea and increase market and acceptance of GM bean varieties.

The outreach is supported through partnerships of NABDA, USDA, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), OFAB and the All-Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN).

For more information, contact Dr. Rose Gidado at

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