In an effort to improve agricultural productivity and safety, Ethiopia has approved the commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) cotton and field research on GM maize.
The two crops have been genetically engineered to include genes from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a common soil bacterium that is widely used to control insect pests in organic agriculture. Breeding pest resistance into a crop significantly reduces the need to apply pesticides during cultivation, while greatly improving yields.
“I think we have to strongly work on awareness creation to generalize what GM means for Ethiopia,” said Assefa Gudina, director of the Ministry’s Biosafety Affairs Directorate.
Ethiopia’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate (MEFCC) approved the environmental release of Bt cotton following two years of confined field trial research by the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR). The two cotton hybrids that will be released for commercial cultivation have been tested to ensure they are compatible with Ethiopia’s growing conditions. Read more