Two genetically engineered cotton varieties (MRC 7377 and MRC 7367) were approved in Nigeria for planting by farmers to help increase supply for the textile industry and cut lint imports, according to officials.

According to Rose Gidado, Assistant Director of the National Biotechnology Development Agency, the GE cotton varieties were developed by the Institute of Agricultural Research at the Ahmadu Bello University. They inserted a gene that makes the cotton plants resistant to bollworm attack, which is the most devastating pest in cotton production. Aside from pest resistance, the GE cotton varieties are also high yielding, increasing the usual output of conventional varieties to over threefold, with improved fiber strength and length.

 

At present, Nigeria produces 60,000 tons of cotton annually. With the introduction of new GE cotton varieties, it is expected that at least 150,000 tons will be produced by cotton farmers in the coming season.

 

Read more from Bloomberg and Genetic Literacy Project.