Yes, we have many solutions

IITA has a pretty nice video out about controlling Banana Xanthomonas Wilt via genetic modification.

Now, don’t jump to any conclusions, I have nothing against genetic modification of banana. In fact, if you’re going to use genetic modification on anything, bananas should be right up there. No chance of that pesky transgene escaping into the wild, for a start. Although I would like to know how they’re planning to engineer resistance into the dozens of varieties that are important in East Africa. Wait, you mean they’re not going to do that? Just a few, eh?

Well, anyway. My main point is that the video gives no hint at all that, as far as BXW control is concerned at any rate, there are other, perfectly viable, options. And IITA knows this, because it has been involved in the development of a pretty effective, multi-faceted, low-cost, integrated, sustainable strategy for control. One that doesn’t involve the threat of reducing the diversity of the crop.

Of course, it would help if there were similarly nice videos about that. There are factsheets galore, true. Lots of factsheets. But videos? Well, maybe you can get them to work. And anyway they don’t really seem to be aimed at the general audience so clearly targeted by IITA’s vid. How can we make the case that there are occasionally more appropriate, sustainable solutions than GMOs when we can’t even win the battle of the videos?

3 Replies to “Yes, we have many solutions”

  1. How many of these factsheets are actually translated, laminated and distributed to banana farmers, cooperatives, processors, and extension workers? And made available online?

    On CABI’s Plantwise, a search for BXW control info yields one factsheet in kinyarwanda. Promusa’s wiki features the ‘naïve art’ one. Add IITA’s factsheets in the deck. Shuffle and distribute. Bet who is confused now.
    Is the RTB initiative going to create its own in parallel, or build the one to rule them all? Are we to expect the same for educational videos?

    Note: Cant get the videos to play either (the ones on IITA’s website). Too bad indeed. Also, that last hyperlink has the usual wordpress-generated (?) prepend.

  2. Mobile phone apps are easy and cheap to produce and have better penetration than the traditional approaches. Mobile phone ownership and use in your target audience is the way to go.
    BXW control will rely on a multiple approaches . Several things are certain- there is no silver bullet , you can never just go back to how it was before and unless you get the growers on side nothing is going to work. Genetically engineered varieties are expensive and take time. You need to contain the spread and reduce the impact at the ame time. The two approaches must work together not compete with each other.

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