The Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on Monday, January 30, 2023, submitted two (2) different applications to the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) for approval. The two applications are Environmental Release for the insect-resistant cowpea event 245F and Confined Field Trial (CFT) for Bruchid Resistance Cowpea.
The event 245F application is a follow-up towards the genetically engineered resistance to Maruca pod borer (Maruca vitrata) which was approved as event 709A in June 2022 for breeding as part of the insect resistance management strategy. It will therefore not be used for the development of new varieties.
The CFT, on the other hand, is geared towards the production of cowpea products with resistance to both field and storage pests (Callosobruchus maculatus).
The Director of CSIR-SARI, Dr. Francis Kusi explained that the application is a follow-up to the Cry1Ab cowpea which was approved last year (2022) by the NBA. “There are demands coming from the field and all the key stakeholders, consumers, processors, and the likes”, he disclosed. Dr. Kusi stated that following the feedback, SARI has worked on a new gene that will withstand all other strains following the study of the C. macalatus.
The Principal Investigator for the CFT, Dr. Jerry Nboyine also stated that the pod borer-resistant 245F cowpea will not be commercialized as a standalone product but will be combined with other cowpea varieties containing events 709A using conventional breeding. The new varieties submitted for variety registration will produce both the Cry1Ab protein, from 709A cowpea which has been approved and the Cry2Ab protein, from 245F cowpea. It is adaptable to Ghanaian agroecology and would assist in the storage of cowpea besides having more yield.
Receiving the applications, the Chief Executive Officer of the NBA, Mr. Eric Amaning Okoree observed that the NBA would pay critical attention to the application and take a decision in the interest of Ghanaians. He explained that as a regulator, due diligence in line with the Biosafety Act (Act 831) and the Cartagena Protocol would be followed in order to gain more public confidence in the products of the technology.
“Where there is effective regulation, there is a public trust”. Mr. Okoree stated that the public trust in the NBA will rate higher when applications are submitted, timely decisions are made, and the products are regulated effectively.