HYBRID VARIETIES OR GENETICALLY MODIFIED VARIETIES (GMOs)
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Hybrid plant

Consumers are increasingly getting worried about the kind of products emanating from agricultural farms. This is due to the advancements of technology in this field. The issue of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) has divided experts into two distinct groups. There are some who believe GMOs are not hazardous to the health of humans. While another group believes that it is in fact a danger to human health.

In simple terms, Hybrid seeds come into existence through specific and controlled cross of two parent plants. Oftentimes, the parent plants have different desirable traits that can combine to form a new variety. The process of doing this is Hybridization. This happens everyday undisturbed in the wild. But, when scientists (plant breeders) influence the process to achieve a specific outcome, the outcome is a hybrid seed.

On the other, GM varieties are developed in the lab using sophisticated technologies such as gene splicing. Let me be clear on this, GM varieties often involve the transfer of genes from one kingdom to another, for example, from bacteria to plants. Whereas, hybridization involves the transfer of genes between two related species

ARE HYBRID SEEDS PRODUCTS OF GMO?

People often misclassify hybrid products as GMOs. Interestingly, most of the modern fruits or crops that exist today are nothing like they were many years ago in the wild. Hybridization can happen naturally. As a result, new varieties are being developed every now and then, with or without supervision.

Hybridized varieties are nothing like their GM counterparts, because only closely related species are crossed together. In simple terms, crossing varieties of the same species that have different desirable qualities will create  a new improved variety .

Hybrid seeds are nothing like GMO. In GMO, a gene can be extracted from an organism in another kingdom and then incorporated into the genome of the plant. For instance, a bacterium that is resistant to a particular disease or pest can be harvested and its gene is passed to a plant that does not have the trait.

Few months ago, Nigeria approved its first genetically modified crop. Pest-resistant Bt cotton has been commercialized in a bid to revitalize the dying textile industry. Bt cotton has been genetically modified to include a gene from Bacillus thuringiensis. GMOs are not outrightly banned in the country, but it has been restricted to all other purposes except food. 

HOW SAFE ARE HYBRID VARIETIES?

Hybrid seeds are developed to be resistant to diseases, pests, or an adverse agricultural condition.

The first hybrid variety released to the market was Corn in the 1930’s. It was the outcome of a cross that combined the traits of different good varieties to produce a better one with high vigor and yield. Fortunately, this hybrid variety was a success and used by almost all farmers, even till date.

Ever since then, researchers  all around the world have developed many hybrid seeds, most of which are patented and sold by companies.

The apex regulatory body for seeds in Nigeria, National Agricultural Seeds Council encourages the use of hybrid seeds for agricultural purposes. However, there’s no express permission given for the use of GMO on the field or for research purposes even for food security.

THE TRUTH ABOUT HYBRID SEEDS

Unlike GM varieties, nobody has tampered with the genomic composition of hybrid seeds nor is there any bioengineering with a species from another kingdom. Only genes from plants that are very related to the plants are used.

The major concern about the use of GM seeds is because, on the field, natural pollinators can pollinate GMO varieties with natural varieties. In no time, GM varieties will spread and may dominate the other varieties. Some scientists don’t want this to happen because the future of GMO varieties is still uncertain.

The benefits of planting hybrid seeds are enormous. Many of these hybrid seeds can give:

    • High yields
    • Resistance to diseases, weeds, and pests.
    • Bigger fruits
    • Short maturity time
    • Cold or heat tolerance, etc.

All the benefits are collectively referred to as “hybrid vigour”. Frankly speaking, it’s difficult to get a seed embedding all these traits in its DNA.

If you are wondering why you need to buy hybrid seeds at every planting season, here’s a short explanation from britannica:

Since cross-pollinated species are naturally hybrid (heterozygous) for many traits and lose vigour as they become purebred (homozygous), a goal of each of these breeding methods is to preserve or restore heterozygosity.

One major advantage of hybrid seeds is that, since they have the same parent plants and have the same genes, there’s no dissimilarity in their growth at all. All the plants will grow uniformly and give the same yield if subjected to the same condition.

CONCLUSION

Undoubtedly, hybrid seeds are the solution to many on-field problems that farmers may encounter. However, if you are still skeptical about hybrid seeds because you believe they are somewhat Genetically Modified, you can stick to using Heirloom varieties in your field. This is also a great alternative.

The problem many farmers face when it’s time to select a hybrid seed is the viability of such seeds. Taking such a risk can hamper the success of a farming season.

You can check out our seed bank for high quality seeds that we have tested to have a viability of 99.99%. These seeds can be promptly supplied to you by FarmSquare.

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