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Crop Biotech Update

Farmers in Western Kenya Request for Speedy Commercialization of GM Cotton

December 16, 2015

Stakeholders from Busia County in Kenya, comprising of farmers, ginners and policy makers, have called on the government to lift the ban on GM food imports and allow commercialization of GM cotton.

The call to adoption was expressed during a half day awareness seminar on biotechnology, held at the Agricultural Training Center. The event was organized by Busia County in partnership with the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB-Kenya). Led by their Governor Sospeter Ojaamong, a section of stakeholders from both county and national governments argued that GM technology could be key to reviving the cotton industry. The industry has collapsed in Busia County and other neighboring counties which used to depend on it as a cash crop.

"We are experiencing increased land shrinkage. Therefore agricultural biotechnology should be at the forefront of agricultural production systems due to the benefits it offers. The technology can help our experts produce better quality seeds that will improve harvests on small lands," said the governor. He recognized the importance of awareness seminars on biotechnology in order to dispel myths that have been spread by those who oppose modern biotechnology. The governor's remarks emphasized sentiments of other speakers at the meeting, who lauded the positive socio economic impacts Bt cotton has had in countries like India, Burkina Faso, Sudan and other developing countries. Scientists and regulators talked about basics on developing GM crops and outlined the safety assessments government has put in place to ensure their safety.

Aside from expressing the need to adopt Bt cotton in the region, participants also contributed comments towards approval of multiple locations planting of Bt cotton by the National Biosafety Authority (NBA).

For more information, contact Dr. Margaret Karembu at mkarembu@isaaa.org.