8 October 2022
Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization KALRO takes this opportunity to thank H. E. President Hon William Samoei Ruto following the lift of a 10-year ban on Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) imports and cultivation in Kenya.
What needs to be told is that the lifting of this ban is as a result of a real need to ensure food and feed security and to safeguard our environment. Climate change and severity of drought and the emergence of new pests such as Fall Army Worms and maize stock borer, and diseases such as Maize Lethal Necrosis pose a real threat to food, feed, and nutritional security. These insect-pests are very expensive to control, with farmers spending up to Kshs. 12,000 per acre on pesticides alone. These pesticides are also harmful to human health and the environment, especially water. They significantly contribute to low production that currently stands at 7 to 10 (90kg) bags against the potential of 22 to 35 bags per acre. We lose about 13M (90kg) of maize to stock borers annually, valued at Ksh 32.5B. Maize borers attack also increases aflatoxin contamination, which is a health hazard.
GMOs have been grown for almost 30 years with no reported health problems. Scientifically, GMO is proven to be safe for food, feed and the environment and is currently approved for cultivation in about 70 countries worldwide. Kenya has a fully robust and functional policy and legal and institutional framework for governing the use of GMOs. After a decade of successful research three Bf maize varieties; WE1259B, WE3205B, and WE5206B were recommended for release by KEPHIS but the final release and placement to the market was pending cabinet decision.
In the 2023 long rains planting season, KALRO and its partner African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) will avail 11 MT of certified seed to be planted by farmers on 500,000 acres across mid-altitude agroecological zones as demonstrations pending full commercialization by private companies.
As required by law, KALRO worked with regulatory agencies, National Biosafety Authority, NEMA, and KEPHIS on the various steps. We assure Kenyans that the Bt maize is safe as conventional varieties for food, feed, and the environment. We thank our partners for walking the research journey with us.