[On October 11th, Kenya] unveiled a national task force to oversee the commercialization of genetically modified cotton in the next five years.
Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Willy Bett said the team will build the capacity of key stakeholders involved in the rollout of genetically engineered cotton.
He said Kenyan farmers will start cultivation of the Bt cotton in 2019 once the task force establishes structures to support that endeavor.
Bt cotton is genetically enhanced with Bt-genes to protect it against caterpillar pests, especially the African bollworm, the most destructive pest in cotton crops. Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) is a beneficial bacteria that occurs naturally in the soil, local Daily Nation reported.
Since 2002, the National Performance Trials of the Bt cotton have been conducted at Kenya Agricultural, Livestock Research Organization (KALRO)’s research center at Mwea in central Kenya, where the plant performed well, he said.
Controlled field trials of the Bt cotton have been going on since 2002 and are now nearing completion.
The government approved the field trial of Bt cotton (MON 15985) in a Gazette notice issued in September this year.
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