NIGERIA’S federal government has granted approval for the evaluation and open cultivation of a genetically modified (GM) maize variety known as Tela developed by researchers at the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria.
Approval for the cultivation of the crop was announced by Yakubu Dodo, ABU’s Zaria’s spokesman and the West and Central Africa Agricultural Technology Foundation. They added that the GM maize would resist fall armyworm, stem borers and tolerate moderate drought.
The government decision was contained in a certificate issued to IAR by the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), mandated to regulate genetically modified products across the country. The certificate dated October 8, 2021, was issued to IAR for general/commercial release of Tela maize GM for drought tolerance, resistance to stem borer and fall armyworm.
A decision document accompanying the certificate from NBMA stated: “The agency was convinced that there are no known adverse impacts to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, taking into account risk to human health. The permit, pursuant to this decision, is without prejudice to other extant legal requirements.”
It stated that this approval would authorise the permit holder and persons covered by the permit to commercialise the Tela maize genetically modified for drought tolerance and insect resistance. IAR executive director Professor Ishiyaku Mohammed, said it was inspiring for the institute to secure NBMA approval for the commercial release of the drought-tolerant and insect-resistant maize.