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October 24, 2020

Science Cast

Bridging the gap between Scientists and the Public

Is GMO Technology solving current Agricultural problems?

3 min read

GM Crops are genetically modified crops, of which desired genes for example the gene for disease resistance, is taken from an organism (plant or animal) and introduced into a crop. GMO abbreviation stands for Genetically modified organisms (plants, animals, microorganisms etc.)

Over many years, there have been consumer speculations on genetically modified crops. Despite the numerous doubts, it has proved that it may be the only way to go. The type of agricultural practices and farming system practiced in the world today, will not be able to feed its high growing population estimated to increase by 50% in a decade.

The problems facing the agriculture industry including pests, diseases, pathogens ,weeds, low yields, droughts, stress, nutrition, and poorly coordinated system require a solution in the capacity of the green revolution.

GM Crops on food security

Food security is a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) that developing countries are aiming to achieve; Children from such countries suffer many diseases caused by poor nutrition (malnutrition) and lack of important vitamins for their health . To solve such problems, scientists developed genetically modified rice variety with high beta-carotene called golden rice, a good source of vitamin A and highly nutritious. The modified rice would improve the lives and nutrition of numerous citizens of the developing countries where rice is a staple food.

Golden rice production, however, comes with its challenges; It requires more than one license and several government procedures for its production. This has served as a challenge to rural and subsistence farmers on the ground  who are not in a position to acquire such resources.

GM technology on crop production (BT MAIZE)

BT MAIZE is a genetically modified maize that produces protein Bacillus thuringiensis, usually a soil bacterium to controls pests known to be very destructive in maize production.

Bt maize has been gaining momentum among large scale production farmers because of its ability to resist pests, however, the small scale farmers  have not got the better part of the genetically modified maize.

Why large scale farmers use Bt maize

  • Bt maize removes cob rot. Cob rot affects maize production all over the world, it also pose health problems as a result producing mycotoxins and its throat cancer-promoting properties. Cob rot spreads very fast in hot temperatures and occurs during and after flowering in Maize
  • Controls pests. Stem borers, Busseola Fusca, Chillo partellus and spotted stem borer are pests that cause stunted growth in maize and leads to very low production. Bt maize is not affected by the said pests.
  • It cuts costs! Yes spending money in buying insecticides, pesticides ,which are known to cause environmental problems and affect soil ph is costly. Gm Crops solve these issues by low to no usage of these chemicals.
  • High Grain quality. Consumers in the export and local market are known to judge Maize grain from their appearance. The appearance attracts consumers’ and large-scale farmers have mastered these art, and that’s why they adopted Bt Maize.

How BT maize works against pest

When pests and pathogens ingest Bt maize parts, the maize produces bacterial Bt toxins to the insect’s esophagus preventing it from feeding further. The esophagus breaks causing pests and pathogens to die.it works with the principle of an insecticide

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