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Scientist underscores usefulness of genome editing technology to Africa



Prof. Olalekan Akinbo, Scientist and Supervisor at Centre of Excellence in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), says Genome Editing (GEd) technology is useful to Africa.

Akinbo spoke in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday.

He clarified that Genome Editing (GEd) and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) were not the same in principle.

Making this distinction, he said GMO could apply Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) information from another plant or animal to form a crop, while GEd had nothing to do with external applications.

Akinbo explained that in GEd, all what was needed was already inside the plant’s DNA, hence the idea was to use the inherent information to assist the plant realise its potential.


He stated that this was known as redundant DNA which GEd technology would help to activate.

The scientist, who was responding to why African countries should take GEd seriously, argued that it was an emerging technology with new innovations that help in various areas of improvements.

He listed these areas to include climate, agriculture and health among others, adding that the technology ia also a means of improving livelihoods.

Akinbo said the technology of GEd was an initiative the centre advocated with focus on agricultural productivity.

According to him, numerous crops have the potentials to produce optimally but due to the limitations caused by diseases, pests and nutrient insufficiency in the soil, among others, they failed to optimally produce.


Akinbo said in such cases, crops with these shortcomings were not to be exposed to conventional breeding techniques where the parental characteristics could not be passed from one generation to another for enhancement in yields.

He added: “But when the limitation is removed through genome editing which uses advanced breeding technique, then the potential of the crop would be enhanced and productivity in regards to yield will improve.

“This is the most important thing because Africa is an agrarian continent that relies more on agriculture and most of agricultural productivity is very low due to pest, diseases among other inhibiting factors.’’

Akinbo lamented that the standard of Africa’s agricultural productivity was low in comparison to what is required or expected in international standards of crop yield and output.

He said through GEd technology, Africa’s crop yield and agricultural output would be improved and maximised, which would automatically impact on the Gross Domestic Products(GDPs) of African economies.


He assured that with GEd, instead of cultivating massive hectares of land for less yield as what was experienced in conventional breeding, a reduced area of land would ensure tremendous yield.

The scientist further said that GEd was helpful in addressing issues relating to climate change because there would be significant afforestation that would be going on.

He said: “Africans need food to feed the teeming population, so yield may not need to be one hundred per cent farming with improvement in efficiency and productivity scale.

“So, this technology could also help to improve and support the productivity of crops, with reduced area of cultivated land and provide enough feed for animals as well as increase their meat productivity.’’

Akinbo stated that emerging technologies were numerous but genome editing was one that made use of the technology at the DNA level, which is the information carrier in the body of any living organism.


He said that this was very important as this was one of the advantages of the technology.

Akinbo added: “The truth is that science has proven that this technology will help African nations.’’

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NCDC registers 1,968 Lassa fever cases in 28 states



The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), has registered 1,068 Lassa fever infections across 112 local government areas in 28 states of the federation.

The NCDC said this via its official website on Tuesday in its Lassa Fever Situation Report for Week 37 (Sep. 11 -17, 2023).

The centre indicated that 75 per cent of the cases were detected in Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi States.

Lassa fever is a viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus. It is primarily found in West Africa, particularly in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria.

The virus is transmitted to humans through contact with the urine or feces of infected rodents, specifically the multimammate rat.


According to the NCDC, there are currently 7,352 individuals with suspected cases and the infection has resulted in the unfortunate loss of at least 181 lives in the country.

The centre said that the case-fatality ratio of the infection stood at 16.9 per cent.

“Cumulatively from week 1 to week 37, 2023, 181 deaths have been reported with a case fatality rate of 16.9 per cent which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2022 (19.1 per cent).

“In total for 2023, 28 States have recorded at least one confirmed case across 112 local government areas.

“Seventy-five per cent of all confirmed Lassa fever cases were reported from these three states (Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi) while 25 per cent were reported from 25 states with confirmed Lassa fever cases.


“Of the 75 per cent confirmed cases, Ondo reported 35 per cent, Edo 29 per cent, and Bauchi 11 per cent.

“The predominant age group affected is 21-30 years (Range: 1 to 93 years, Median Age: 32 years).

“The male-to-female ratio for confirmed cases is 1:0.9. The number of suspected cases increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2022,” it said.

It is regretted that in 2023 Lassa fever infected 49 healthcare workers across the country.

The agency said that the National Lassa Fever Multi-partner, Multi-sectoral Emergency Operations Centre had been activated to coordinate the response activities at all levels.


It added that prevention of Lassa fever involves avoiding contact with rodents and their droppings, practising good personal hygiene and taking precautions when caring for infected individuals.

The NCDC said that early diagnosis and prompt medical care are crucial in managing the disease and preventing complications.

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NLC, TUC suspend planned strike for 30 days




Organised labour unions have suspended their planned nationwide indefinite strike action for the next one month.

This was contained in a memorandum of understanding signed Monday by the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, and General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja; as well as the TUC President, Festus Osifo, and Secretary General, Nuhu Toro.

The three-page document was also signed by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong; Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Dr Nkeiruka Onyejeocha; and Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris.

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