The National Biosafety Authority approved the genetically modified cowpea, also known as the black eyed pea, in Ghana. This is the first of the three regulatory approvals that must be obtained before the GM cowpea can be commercialised in Ghana. The next two regulatory hurdles, which can be overcome simultaneously, are the approvals to obtained from by the Food and Drugs Authority, and from the National Varietal Release and Registration Committee.
Once the GM cowpea is approved by all three regulatory bodies, the scientists overseeing the project at the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute will need a strategy for seed multiplication, packaging and distribution. The GM cowpea is only likely to only be available in the market in over year, if not more.
Although, the cowpea is a major source of protein and is a food staple in the northern part of Ghana, the success of the GM cowpea will depend on overcoming opposition by civil society groups, and will need to be carefully priced. The GM version will increase yield, be more pest-resistant and will decrease the current costs of production. Cowpeas are not actually peas, but beans. They are one of the oldest crops to be farmed.
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