Biotech Updates

Ugandan Legislators Call for Fast Tracking of Commercialization of Bt Cotton in Kenya

July 3, 2019

Members of Parliament from Uganda have called upon the Kenyan government to fast track the commercialization of Bt cotton so that the entire East African Community can benefit from its advantages. This was during a genetic engineering regulatory learning visit to Kenya.

Uganda Biosciences Information Center (UBIC) collaborated with ISAAA AfriCenter to organize a learning visit on genetic engineering regulation for policymakers and regulators. The objective of the visit was to share regulatory experiences on environmental release and eventual commercialization of biotech crops in Kenya, which is likely to have implications for trade within the East African Community.

"I call upon the government of Kenya to speed up its decision in resolving this matter so that these advantages on the Bt cotton can be enjoyed not only the Kenyans but by the entire East African Community," said Hon. Fred Bwino, Member of Parliament and Chairperson for the Parliamentary Committee for Science, Technology and Innovation. This was during a seeing-is-believing visit to one of the sites of the Bt cotton national performance trials in Mwea, Kenya, on June 19, 2019. Hon. Bwino who led the Ugandan delegation added that if Kenya leads the way (with commercializing Bt cotton), other members of the East African Community can follow in this very positive development.

According to researchers in Kenya, Bt cotton effectively controls common caterpillar pests and matures in four months compared to local varieties that take nine months. The Government of Kenya is hoping to revamp its textile industry with the commercialization of Bt cotton after many years of declined cotton production. President of Kenya, H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, recently presided over the official reopening of the Rivatex textile factory that will be one of the reliable markets to Kenyan farmers who are excited to get higher yields from Bt cotton. Three other factories: Thika Cotton Mills, Bedi Investment, and Ken Knit Factories have also rejoined the textile industry, according to  Standard Media.

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