For 18 years, a number of countries have been commercialising crops, which are bred using biotechnology. US was the first to commercialise Bt corn and Bt soy bean in 1996, which are genetically modified varieties that contain a bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which acts as a natural insecticide against pests.
African countries that are conducting biotechnology research, do it according to their own priorities. But those countries that have commercialised biotech crops, have focused on Bt cotton.
In each of these seasons, Bt cotton varieties were planted at
Bollworms cause losses of up to 100 per cent if uncontrolled. And control using pesticides is not only expensive but hazardous to the environment. So, the varieties of cotton tested had genes from Bt, which enable the cotton to produce proteins that are toxic to bollworms, hence controlling them with promising results.
The second trial was Roundup-ready cotton for management of weeds. They have tolerance for the herbicide Roundup. When such crops are sprayed with the herbicide, the weeds die but the crop remains.
Trials The results were overwhelming because all weeds in cotton under Kasese and Serere conditions were controlled. The yields were also good.
The plan is that the genes responsible for the two traits would then be introgressed into
However, according to Dr
Other cases It is a requirement for the countries willing to adopt the technology to follow the procedures as guided by Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and national biosafety law in each country. "We are neither pro, nor against this technology, but we help those who want to adopt the technology on its safe use," explained Dr Woldeyesus during the
He added: "
Profit Confined field trials in
Pius Elubu, who was then the trial manager in the Ugandan Bt cotton trials, analysed cotton growing to be practiced mainly by peasant farmers. This is grown on land ranging from two to five acres. With data on economic gain showing that farmers earn a profit of
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