“They say we have an extra gene(s) that we shouldn’t have, says Mandy.
“But that gene kills our major enemy only it doesn’t harm anyone else. The other tiny insects and beneficial organism live happily with us; Genes are gems,” states, Fanny.
Mandy is a maize biotech crop while Fanny is a biotech cotton, the two are cartoon characters created for ISAAA’s first educational cartoon publication on biotech crops- “Mandy & Fanny” to depict the future of sustainable Agriculture.
The two, Mandy and Fanny, converse in a simple and light tone on biotech crops, their advantages and the negative tags they have received from anti-GM campaigners.
In one of the pages Mandy laments, “Some people calls us genetically modified, but truly we are safer than what we were.”
All through the conversation, the two try to enlighten children on their benefits and that having that extra gene makes them stronger and better for farmers and consumers alike.
Globally the world is adopting biotech crops and in Africa, Burkina Faso, Egypt and South Africa are already in the bandwagon of planting and commercialization of biotech crops but still many and especially Kenyans continue to be wary of adopting GM.
In a recent report on examining radio trends in communicating BT, Kenyans were found to be wary of consuming GM unlike their counterparts in Burkina Faso, these mostly attributed to the fact that there is a lot of miscommunication on the topic and when GM comes up its usually negative.
As Mandy and fanny discuss, this negativism about biotech, they make a point of how the countries against BT, usually consume medication made out of BT.
And as Fanny poses, “What’s the fuss?”
In the search for microbicides in the prevention of HIV infection, the research process takes three stages. From the idea to the lab and finally animal testing, we enter into the three stages.
The human test stage -The first Phase is the safety trials, which involves a group of 20-50 people and looks out for negative effects.
The second phase is a more expanded safety trials involves a larger group of volunteers and is used to prove if the substance works.
Phase three tests the efficacy of the product, how effective it is and at this point trials can be stopped.
Fifteen years of growing and eating BT should be enough evidence for the Doubting Thomases out there.
Maybe we need to explore some questions and concerns.
- Is BT safe for consumption?
- Is it harmful to the soil and the environment?
- Is the world populace hungry?
- Is BT innovation the way out of poverty and hunger in Africa?
- Is it expensive to acquire the seeds?
- What are the interests of these investors?
- Do developing nations grow these crops?
- Do the seeds regenerate?
- What is the difference between BT and GM?
Ms Nyambura is a freelance science journalist.