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Kenya says ready to introduce GMOs

October 13, 2017 09:07



NAIROBI, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- A Kenyan official said on Thursday that the country is ready for the introduction of Genetically Modified foods (GMOs).

Willy Bett, Cabinet Secretary for Livestock, Livestock and Fisheries said the government has put in place an act to aid general supervision and control over the transfer, handling and use of GMOs in the country.

"We have experts and a competent authority that was established to regulate research and commercial activities involving GMOs with a view to ensuring safety of human, animal health and the environment," Bett said in an interview in Nairobi.

He said that many countries have benefited from biotechnology in a bid to increase food production hence the reason Kenya has taken time conducting agricultural research using the technology.

He revealed that researchers at Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) are currently conducting open field trials research on maize, cassava and sorghum.

"Once the varieties pass the tests, they will be released to farmers for commercial growing," he added.

GMOs are products of modern biotechnology that involve the manipulation of the genetic material of organisms through genetic engineering procedures.

The National Biosafety Authority (NBA), a body that is charged with the responsibility of supervising and control over the transfer, handling and use of GMOs has approved bacterial-wilt-disease-resistant banana and insect-resistant pigeon pea under contained trials.

Other varieties approved for contained trials include stress tolerant cassava, nematode-resistant and virus-resistant yam, trypanosome resistance model studies on mice, trypanosome resistance in cow and improved vaccines against livestock infections under contained trials.

Last month, the authority approved environment release of Bt cotton for the purposes of conducting limited National Performance Trials (NPTs).

Bt cotton has been genetically modified by the insertion of one or more genes from a common soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).

These genes produce insecticidal proteins, thus genetically transformed plants produce one or more toxins as they grow.

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