Crop Biotech Update

Kenyan Gov’t Gives Nod to Use of Bt Cottonseed Cake for Animal Feeds

June 15, 2022

The Government of Kenya has granted approval for importation of duty-free genetically modified (GM) cottonseed cake for manufacture of animal feeds as the country seeks to arrest the current shortage and unaffordability of feeds.

In a Gazette Notice exempting duty on imported raw materials used to manufacture animal and chicken feeds, Treasurer Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani has allowed eight manufacturers to import up to 28,000 metric tons of GM cotton seed cake from Bt cotton. “The imported cottonseed cake shall be either GM or non-GMO in accordance with the laws of Kenya and Kenyan standards applicable under the laws of Kenya and implemented by the Kenya Bureau of Standards and the National Biosafety Authority,” reads the notice.

This development signals the critical contribution of biotech cotton in addressing the incessant feed crisis that has pushed the country's livestock sub-sector to the brink. The new directive is a clear demonstration by the Government to prioritize Bt cotton as one of the country's economic enablers.

The use of Bt cottonseed cake to manufacture animal feeds opens a huge opportunity for Kenyan cotton farmers to tap into diverse markets for their produce. The farmers have an opportunity to close the feed deficit by growing more cotton for seed cake. Kenya rolled out commercial farming of the biotech cotton in 2020, and currently farmers in eastern and western regions are already cultivating the crop which is three times more productive than conventional varieties.

The big demand for cottonseed cake will revitalize the cotton sub-sector and open up a lucrative income stream for farmers.

The decision to allow importation of GM cottonseed cake comes hot on the heels of a national dialogue on building Kenya's sustainable animal feed system held in Nairobi. Speaking during the dialogue, Livestock Principal Secretary (PS) Harry Kimtai hinted that the Government would address the ban and approval of GM crops on a case-by-case basis.

Giving the clearest indication yet that the ban will soon be lifted, the PS revealed the Government has developed a biotech crop Post-Release Monitoring Framework for Bt maize. “The Post-Release Monitoring Framework will be sufficient in safeguarding human health as the country considers lifting the GM food import ban,” said PS Kimtai. The dialogue proposed a raft of recommendations for building a sustainable feed system in the country.

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

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