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IITA uses GM to fight banana bacterial wilt

Healthy bananas for sale at the road side (WRENmedia)
Healthy bananas for sale at the road side

A new initiative is transforming banana cultivars, by introducing a banana xanthomonas wilt (BXW) resistant gene from sweet pepper. Priority has been given to farmer-preferred varieties. Spearheaded by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the initiative will test varieties for BXW resistance and environmental and food safety compliance in each of the countries where the genetically modified (GM) banana can be consumed. A recent impact assessment on the effects of BXW has reported that uncontrolled spread of the disease could cost the Ugandan economy up to US$200 million per year. IITA has also reported that other options need to be developed to fight the disease. In Uganda, while up to 85 per cent of farmers are aware of recommended measures to manage the disease, such as disinfecting farming tools and removing male flowers, only 35 per cent of farmers use them.

Date published: January 2007


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