More countries embrace Kenya GMO maize studies


Kenya has become a testing ground for GMOs. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Countries like Ethiopia, Nigeria and Rwanda are increasingly using Kenya’s biotechnology research findings to guide their food security plans as strict laws discourage GMO crops at home.

The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) scientists said Kenya has become a testing ground for technologies that end up benefiting other nations.

They have been conducting trials on GMO maize at confined fields for the last 10 years but the government is yet to allow commercialisation of this variety.

James Karanja, Lead Scientist at for this project, said Kenya cannot refuse to share the technology with other countries as it is one of the conditions by donors.

“Kenya is losing this technology because the donor is not going to pump more money on this research when the current policy has barred commercialisation,” said Prof Karanja.

He said the country had been given two years probation, following the initial partnership.

Officials were told that if the country fails to adopt the technology by March 2020, then it will be transferred to a country that is willing.

Dickson Ligeyo, a maize breeder at Kalro in Kitale said they started testing the current breed transgenic maize in 2016 in both Kitale and Kiboko and the results had been promising.

“Despite Kenya releasing various seeds which have been embraced in the region, It is still lagging in adopting the said varieties,” he said.

He cited Uganda which has adopted some of the varieties tried in Kenya and was ahead in embracing the Bt technology.