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Crop Biotech Update

Kenya Pushes Through GM Cotton Plans

July 29, 2011

After allowing the importation of GM maize, Kenya is now anticipating another GM crop to be released to farmers in 2014. This GM crop is commonly known as Bt cotton which is resistant to insects. This Bt cotton also contains another transgene that confers drought tolerance, thus doubling the yield of conventional cotton. At present, researchers at Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) study the crop in demonstration farms in Thika. Field trials are also being conducted in Embu, where farmers are being trained on how to grow the crop.

"It should be clear that we are on the path to introducing commercialized GMO crops because the law now allows that," said Wilson Songa, the Agriculture Secretary. "This is a technology we believe in and we know it will be of benefit to farmers," he said.

Micah Powon, executive director of the Cotton Development Authority, confirmed that the trials are on going and said that they highly prefer the crop because it decreases insecticide spraying by three to nine times, while doubling the yields at the same time. Kenya currently needs 200,000 bales of cotton per year to be self-sufficient, and this can be achieved easily by planting GM cotton, Powon added.