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Not so fast: Why Kenya is likely to abandon variety

gmo
geraldandae

Summary

  • Ms Anne Maina, the national coordinator of biosafety and biodiversity coalition Kenya (Biba Kenya) says based on the history of what happened in Burkina Faso, GM cotton will not be successful in the country.
  • Farmers in Burkina Faso were forced to abandon GMO cotton in 2015 on the back of challenges associated with the marketability of the shorter fiber length of the crop.

The failure of GMO cotton in Burkina Faso has provided a ready fodder for the anti-GMO groups in Kenya to advance their opposition to this variety.

Ms Anne Maina, the national coordinator of biosafety and biodiversity coalition Kenya (Biba Kenya) says based on the history of what happened in Burkina Faso, GM cotton will not be successful in the country.

“It will not be different from what happened in Burkina Faso. The same scenario is likely to repeat here in Kenya and that is why we are opposed to GMO cotton,” said Ms Maina.

Farmers in Burkina Faso were forced to abandon GMO cotton in 2015 on the back of challenges associated with the marketability of the shorter fiber length of the crop.

The authorities were forced to stop the growing of the Bt cotton because of the losses that farmers made, leading the West African state to revert to the conventional variety.

The Bt cotton introduced by agricultural firm Monsanto (now Bayer) succeeded in controlling pests on Burkina Faso cotton farms, reducing the use of pesticides by up to 70 percent.

Conventional cotton in Burkinabe, Africa’s largest producer, was highly sought the world over because of its quality. However, the production was significantly impacted by the notorious bollworm pests that nearly wiped everything from the farms.

It is because of the negative effects of the bollworms that Monsanto provided the solution of the GMO cotton, which significantly cut on the pests, but failed to address the quality issue.

Ms Maina also argues that the cost of GMO seed is prohibitive to the farmers and this will make it hard for them to access it for planting.

“Access to seed is a very key aspect in farming, the cost of GMO seed is simply too expensive and this could lock out a lot of farmers,” says the activist.

Biba Kenya is an association/network of farmer organisations, animal welfare networks, consumer networks, faith based organisations, local Non- governmental organisation; and community-based groups. All have an interest and work in the areas of environment, agriculture, health, food safety and biodiversity

Apart from the campaign against genetically engineered crops, the coalition has broadened its mandate to issues related to soil fertility and has also been advocating on the ban of chemicals and synthetic fertiliser in the country.

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