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Factual Information On TELA Maize

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The director, agricultural biotechnology department, National Biotechnology Research Development Agency, Dr. Rose Gidado.
The director, agricultural biotechnology department, National Biotechnology Research Development Agency, Dr. Rose Gidado.

TELA maize does not rely on ‘Terminator’ technology. Instead, it uses genetic modification to introduce traits such as drought tolerance and insect resistance.

It’s important to note that TELA maize does not incorporate genetic use restriction technology (GURT), which is commonly known as ‘Terminator’ technology.

TELA maize is a hybrid created through the crossing of carefully selected parent lines. However, being a hybrid does not automatically imply the use of ‘Terminator’ technology. The reduced vigour observed in subsequent generations of hybrids is a natural outcome of genetic segregation, not a result of engineered sterility.

The transgenic traits present in TELA maize, namely drought tolerance and insect resistance, are unrelated to seed viability. These traits are intended to enhance crop performance, rather than control reproduction. Therefore, TELA maize seeds remain viable and can be replanted. It’s worth mentioning that replanting may lead to reduced performance due to hybrid genetics, but the seeds themselves are not sterile.

It is important to highlight that there has been a widespread moratorium on the commercial use of Terminator technology. TELA maize has been developed and approved under regulatory frameworks that strictly prohibit the use of ‘Terminator’ technology.

TELA maize is not the sole and first hybrid seed available in Nigeria. Various other conventional seeds also possess hybrid traits, which farmers have been purchasing and cultivating in our fields.

Examples include the following:

1.     Maize Hybrids

Oba Super 1 and Oba Super 2 are popular maize hybrids developed by the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) at Ahmadu Bello University.

 SAMMAZ series: Developed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

2. Rice Hybrids

FARO 44 (Sipi) is a hybrid rice variety developed by the National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI) in collaboration with international partners.

NERICA (New Rice for Africa) varieties are hybrids developed by the Africa Rice Center to combine the high yield of Asian rice with the hardiness of African rice.

3. Sorghum Hybrids

SAMSORG series are hybrid sorghum varieties developed by the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) to improve yield and drought tolerance.

4. Cowpea Hybrids

IT89KD-288 is a hybrid cowpea variety developed by the IITA, known for its resistance to pests and high yield.

These examples demonstrate that hybrid seeds are widely used in Nigeria to enhance agricultural productivity and sustainability, showing that hybridization is not exclusive to genetically modified crops alone.

Gidado is the director of the agricultural biotechnology department at the National Biotechnology Research Development Agency. She wrote in from Abuja.

Dr. Rose Gidado
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