Kenya’s biosafety authority has given approval for the environmental release of a genetically modified (GM) cassava developed by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO).

The official notification of the approval by Kenya National Biosafety Authority (NBA) for the release of the GM cassava, named Cassava event 4046, which is resistant to cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) was communicated in a decision document dated June 16, 2021, following the necessary review in accordance with the country’s Biosafety Act.

The approval, which is valid for five years from the date of authorization paves way for the scientists to conduct national performance trials of these varieties before registration and release to farmers. KALRO scientists have been developing CBSD-resistant cassava varieties using event 4046 under regulated confined field trial conditions authorized by NBA.

Cassava event 4046 was developed using modern biotechnology and was evaluated over a period of five years in confined field trials in three different locations in Kenya – Mtwapa (Kilifi), Kandara (Murang’a), and Alupe (Busia). It has shown high and stable resistance against CBSD, a disease that can result in a 100 percent loss of usable storage roots due to severe infection. The extensive review conducted by NBA confirms that GM cassava is as safe as conventional varieties for food, feed, and the environment.

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 of Uganda, and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.

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