Cultivation of Bt cowpea may impact health and the environment

Testbiotech analysed the application for marketing and cultivation of insect-resistant cowpea - Event AA-T709A (Ref.No. AAT/DPS-18VUIR-NG) - filed by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation and the Institute of Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria (AATF, 2018) to the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2018 and the respective recommendation of the National Biosafety Committee (NBC) of Nigeria (NBMA, 2018) and the decision for approval (NBMA 2019). The transgenic cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) produces bacterial toxins originating form Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt toxin) classified as Cry1Ab. The toxins are meant to protect the cowpea against infestations with larvae of Maruca vitrata (pod borer).
The aim of the Testbiotech analysis was to come up with a reasoned opinion on whether the application and the recommendation can be regarded as adequate and sufficient to assess the risks of the genetically engineered cowpea, and justify approval for release, cultivation and consumption.
Testbiotech identified and described potential hazards as well as resulting risks which should have been taken into account in the GE cowpea risk assessment. The identified risks were compared to the application and the assessment of the authorities in Nigeria. The issues as presented can also be relevant for other countries in which these GE cowpeas are approved or applied for release or marketing (such as Ghana).

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