NIGERIA – Just after recently launching gene-editing regulations, Nigeria is once again taking a front line in embracing biotechnology in the African Continent by giving a go-ahead to the importation of Argentina-based Bioceres Crop Solutions’ proprietary drought-tolerant HB4 wheat variety.
The permit issued by Nigeria’s National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) authorizes “the import of genetically modified wheat: IND-00412-7 for food, animal feed and milling” and is valid through July 2025.
The declaration comes barely a few weeks after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wrapped up its assessment of HB4, determining it had no further questions regarding the genetically modified wheat’s safety.
Bioceres also recently announced it is forging ahead in its effort to obtain approval to plant and produce its genetically modified drought-resistance wheat in Australia, with a goal of receiving planting approvals in 2023.
According to Bioceres, HB4 drought-tolerance technology has been shown to increase wheat yields by an average of 20% in water-limited conditions, a key adaptation that favors double-cropping systems, where water management is increasingly critical.
Under no-till practices, HB4 soy-wheat rotations result in an estimated 1,650 kilograms of carbon fixed into the soil per hectare per year, compared to positive emissions from conventional soy monoculture, said the company.
The US Department of Agriculture has forecast wheat imports to Nigeria at 6.5 million tonnes for the 2022-23 crop year.
Nigeria joins Brazil, Colombia, Australia and New Zealand who have also approved the wheat for use in food and feed.
HB4 Wheat is commercially authorized for production and consumption in Argentina, where five varieties have been cleared for registration in the current crop season. Argentina granted this approval in October 2020, making it the first country to do so.
Drought-tolerant HB4 Wheat is a patented seed technology developed by Trigall Genetics, Bioceres’ joint venture with Florimond Desprez, a global leader in wheat genetics.
Since 2009, field trials of HB4 Wheat have been underway, and since 2013 Bioceres and Florimond Desprez have invested aggressively in breeding and Phase II regulatory activities.
The commercialization of HB4 wheat in Argentina was however subject to Brazilian approval, as Brazil is the main export market for Argentinean wheat production.