USAID to pay Nigeria to spread GMOs (6/5/2004)

And just the day before the news appeared of USAID's largesse in assisting Nigeria to develop this technology - the measure "against which the nation's development will be measured" acording to Nigeria's Science Minister - an article popped up from CS Prakash in the Nigerian press puffing GMOs, including (unbelievably!) the (failed!) GM sweet potato research in Kenya. Prakash was pushing the success of this project even when no data was available. Now it's been proven a failure, he evidently sees that as no reason to stop!

Prakash is an advisor to USAID, serving as the principal investigator of a USAID funded project 'to promote biotechnology awareness in Africa'. He and his university, Tuskegee (in Alabama) receive multi-million dollar funding from USAID. http://www.lobbywatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=106&page=P

1.USAID to Spend N400m On Nigeria Biotechnology Development
2.Modified Crops And Hunger in Africa

1.USAID to Spend N400m On Nigeria Biotechnology Development
This Day, Nigeria, by Crusoe Osagie
4 May 2004

The United States Agency for International Development USAID is to invest over N400 million [appr. 2,545,000 EUR] in the development of Biotechnology in Nigeria.

In a memorandum of understanding between the Federal government of Nigeria, the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, IITA, and USAID signed yesterday in Abuja, the agency will be providing the said funds within the period of three years to establish a Foundation for Nigeria to take advantage of biotechnology to improve agriculture.

The Minister of Science and Technology professor Turner Isoun who signed the MOU on behalf of the federal government of Nigeria explained that biotechnology in the near future will be the principal technology that will be the scale against which the nations development will be measured.

Isoun who also spoke during the opening ceremony of the International Workshop titled Facilitating the Biotechnology potentials in West Africa organized by the National Biotechnology Development Agency, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, and Tuskegee University with the sponsorship of the United States Agency for International Development which preceeded the MOU signing, explained that any nation that does not take advantage of biotechnology now will pay the price of a significant technological set back in the near future.

2.Modified Crops And Hunger in Africa
This Day, Nigeria, by C. S. Prakash
3 May 2004

Dr. Norman Borlaug, the architect of the Green Revolution and Nobel Laureate keeps reminding us that "People talk about the potential of the sub-Sahara region of Africa. Yes, the potential is there. But you can't eat potential."

The farm productivity has increased in Africa on par with the rest of the world, but the higher rate of population growth in this continent necessitates an urgency of need to increase the food production. Already, the rate of malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa is among the worst in the world and is expected to reach catastrophic proportions unless food production and access be enhanced dramatically within the next decade.

In many African countries, agriculture is the backbone of the economy employing most of its people and contributing to a major share of its GDP and exports. Thus, an improvement in agricultural productivity is vital to ensure the prosperity of its rural sector but also to make food abundant and affordable for all.

Biotechnology represents a frontier advance in agricultural science with far-reaching potential in uplifting African food production in an environmentally sustainable manner. Biotechnology represents a powerful tool that we can employ now in concert with many other traditional approaches in increasing food production in the face of diminishing land and water resources. Crops enhanced through modern biotechnology are now grown on nearly 160 million acres in 16 countries. More than three quarters of the 5.5 million growers who benefit from bioengineered crops are resource-poor farmers in the developing world.

The productivity of most African farms is limited by crop pests and diseases. African cassava farmers typically lose 60 percent of their crop to mosaic virus. Sweetpotato yields in many African nations are dangerously low -- in some cases losing up to 80 ppercent of expected yields - due to the sweetpotato weevil and also the feathery mottle virus (SPFMV). And the European corn borer likewise destroys approximately seven percent, or 40 million tons, of the world's corn crop every year - equivalent to the annual food supply, in calories, for 60 million people. Banana and plantains are seriously threatened with a fungal 'Sigatoka' disease.

Biotechnology is working to solve these problems by producing plants that resist these pests and diseases. Biotech corn, which is already widely used now in South Africa, produces its own protection against the corn borer. Research is under way on sweetpotatoes that produce their own protection against SPFMV, as well as beans, cassava and other staple foods with enhanced natural tolerance to diseases, pests, and physical stresses.

Biotechnology is also helping to develop more nutritious strains of staple crops. Researchers have been working to develop varieties of cassava that more efficiently absorb trace metals and micronutrients from the soil, have enhanced starch quality and contain more beta-carotene and other beneficial vitamins and minerals. "Golden rice" that contains increased amounts of iron and beta carotene (a precursor of Vitamin A) could be on the world market within a few years. This new rice could help more than 100 million children worldwide who suffer from vitamin A deficiency, the developing world's leading cause of blindness, as well as some 400 million women of childbearing age who are iron-deficient. Iron deficiency places a new born baby's at risk of physical and mental retardation, premature birth and death.

Biotechnology could well help to prevent these maladies and others by producing more healthful, nutritious crops. Research is already underway on fruits and vegetables that could one day deliver life-saving vaccines - such as a banana that could soon deliver the vaccine for Hepatitis B, and a potato that provides immunization against the Norwalk virus - making it possible to inoculate against deadly diseases with locally grown crops that are easy to handle, distribute and administer. helping African farmers produce more nutritious crops, biotechnology can also help sustain the land's ability to support continued farming. By developing crops that more efficiently absorb nutrients from the soil, biotechnology can help farmers produce more on land

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