The Kenya National Biosafety Authority has approved the environmental release of genetically modified cassava, which is resistant to cassava brown streak disease.
The event 4046 disease-resistant cassava was developed by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization.
Dorington Ogoyi, NBA’s Chief Executive Officer said the decision was arrived at following a rigorous and thorough review.
“We took into account food, feed, and environmental safety assessment as well as consideration of socio-economic issues. The review process also factored public comments for 30 days, in line with the Kenyan constitution that calls for public participation,” he said.
Through a decision document dated 18th June 2021, NBA Board approved the application following the necessary review in accordance with the country’s Biosafety Act.
Eliud Kireger, Kalro director-general said scientists have been developing CBSD-resistant cassava varieties using event 4046 under-regulated confined field trial conditions authorised by NBA.
“The approval paves way for conducting national performance trials of these varieties before registration and release to farmers. The approval is valid for five years from the date of authorization,” said Kireger.
“This is a welcome decision and a significant step to getting disease-resistant cassava into the hands of Kenyan farmers to address food security challenges. We thank the NBA and all those who participated in the review for their diligent consideration of the application,” he said.
The DG explained that the approved cassava event 4046 was developed using modern biotechnology and evaluated over a period of five years in confined field trials in Mtwapa (Kilifi), Kandara (Murang’a) and Alupe (Busia).
“It has shown high and stable resistance against CBSD, a disease that can result in 100 per cent loss of usable storage roots in severe infection. The extensive review by the NBA, including input from public consultations and relevant government agencies as mandated by law, confirms that the GM cassava is as safe as conventional varieties for food, feed, and the environment,” he said.
The disease-resistant cassava was developed under the Virus Resistant Cassava for Africa Plus (VIRCA Plus) project, a collaborative program between KALRO, the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) of Uganda, and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center-DDPSC.