Kenyan cotton farmers call on government to lift GMO ban to revive struggling industry

women picking cotton
Image: Hussein Abdullahi/Kenya News Agency

[Kenyan farmers] were brought to their knees by low cotton yields when farmers lost interest in the crop….

However, if the government were to lift the ban on GMO crops, farmers would plant Bt cotton, a genetically modified cotton variety, and the engines and machine may yet hum again, and the ginneries may witness a beehive of activity as was the case in yesteryears, aided by better crop yields and harvests. Bt cotton is a variety of cotton that has been enhanced with genes from Bacillus thuringienesis or Bt, a beneficial bacteria found naturally in the soil, and that has been used commercially in biochemical insecticides for more than 30 years to fight caterpillar pests.

Bt is particularly effective against the African bollworm, the most destructive pest in cotton farms.

Scientists have incorporated Bt into cotton, so that the crop can protect itself against the African bollworm, through the production of a protein that is harmful to the pest. This leads to higher yields for farmers.

However, with the ban on GMO crops still in place, farmers can’t grow Bt cotton, and they have on several occasions appealed to the government to lift the ban so that they can plant the genetically modified cotton that would revive the industry and improve their fortunes.

Read full, original post: Farmers await lifting of ban on GMO cotton

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