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January 18, 2019

The choice: GMOs or losing half our maize

A farmer at Kisite area in Msambweni Kwale County.
A farmer at Kisite area in Msambweni Kwale County.

Kenya risks losing half its maize crop this year to Fall Armyworm. 

Pesticides have little effect on the armyworm because it enters inside the stalk of the maize plant where it cannot be reached.

There is a solution, but it is a controversial one.

GMO maize includes a gene that makes it unpalatable to the armyworm (The Star, April 16, P15). If we plant GMO maize, farmers will get a full crop, maybe even a larger one because of genetic modification.

In 2016 the National Biosafety Authority allowed Kalro to undertake trials of GMO maize but they were overruled by Parliament and the Health ministry.

Kenya now faces a stark choice. Do we let farmers lose half of their maize crop, or can they save their crop using GMO seeds?

South Africa uses GMO maize which it exports all over the world. Nigeria, Malawi and Ethiopia are considering adopting GMO maize to repel the armyworm.

Kenya has just approved testing of GMO cotton. Can it also approve testing of GMO maize?

Quote of the day: "An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - American publisher Benjamin Franklin died on 16 April, 1790

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