Does Kenya Need GMO Cassava? Ask the World Food Prize-winner Who Saved Africa’s Cassava
Published: December 3, 2020
Categories: GMO News, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter
Dr. Hans Herren had a lot to say about Kenya’s recent announcement to allow trials of genetically modified cassava. Dr. Herren had received the World Food Prize in 1995 for successfully stopping a mealybug infestation threatening cassava crops.
The mealybug is an invasive species brought in from the Americas. After scouring Mexico and South and Central America, Herren located the insect and discovered native predators that kept it in check. He narrowed the predators down to a small wasp and introduced it into Africa; the wasp lays its eggs in young mealybugs, which are then eaten by the hatched wasps. With $20 million from international agencies, Herren developed a chemical-free biological control for the bug, eliminating the threat to cassava crops and saving over 20 million lives. Cassava is a staple in many African countries.
In 2013, three GM technology pioneers received the World Food Prize for developing a GM variety that could save cassava from the brown streak virus. When asked if biological pest control could control that new enemy, Herren said, “Yes, absolutely. Cassava is a very resilient crop… We had [brown streak virus] completely under control. It’s become a problem because they’ve killed off the ecological features that kept it from being a problem. You don’t need GM cassava…you need to restore the ecological balance in the field.”
“Tackling the cause of the problem beats symptom treatment, every time!” Herren said.
Source: Food Tank
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