Rwandan scientists use genetic modification to save banana crop from disease

Scientists in Rwanda have made great strides in the fight against banana Panama disease through agricultural biotechnology by bringing out genetically modified banana varieties resistant to the deadly disease.

According to Athanase Nidwumuremi, senior scientist at the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) and coordinator of the Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB) in Rwanda, the adoption of genetically modified (GM) crops has resulted in disease resistance. In addressing food insecurity and malnutrition.

„Now that Parliament has passed legislation allowing the cultivation of genetically modified crops, there is an optimistic outlook on the potential for their use,” said Ndwumuremi.

In December 2023, Rwanda passed a bill governing GMO crops.

Nduwumuremyi said that while conventional methods usually require more than 10 years to develop new crop varieties, GMO biotechnology can achieve this in just two years.

In May last year, scientists at Australia's Queensland University of Technology submitted to regulators for approval Australia's first genetically modified fruit – a Cavendish banana – designed to help save the species.

If the QCAV-4 banana is approved, it will be the first GM banana approved globally with a potential safety net against the devastating Panama disease.

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