By Bedah Mengo NAIROBI, (Xinhua) --
Kenya may introduce a new variety of genetically
modified cut flower following the application of rights to
release it by a private company.
In a statement
Thursday, the National Biosafety Authority (NBA), which
regulates all activities involving genetically modified
organisms, said it is in receipt of an application from
Imaginature Ltd for environmental release and placing on the
market of genetically modified Gypsophila cut flowers in Kenya.
If approved, Kenya
will be the first pioneering nation in authorizing the
production of GM-Gypsophila.
has been improved through modern techniques by adding a few
genetic elements responsible for new range of colors from dark
purple and red to light pink colouration in flowers from a model
plant called Arapidopsis,” said NBA.
of the flower, including the color change, have been done to
fetch a higher price in the global market.
“The public is
informed that other than the color change of the flower petals,
no other alteration has been introduced in the GM-Gypsophila
flowers,” said the government agency.
Gypsophila flowers, also called Baby’s breath, are predominantly
white and are solely used for ornamental purposes.
“They are not
consumed by humans or used as animal feed. These flowers are
used as filler materials in flower arrangements and bouquets for
in-door beautification,” noted the authority.
varieties are expected to broaden Kenyan farmers’ assortment of
products, thus promoting their market position as they will be
trading in unique products.
combination of higher price and increased volume are expected to
increase farmers’ annual income from Gypsophila stems.
In the first phase
of production, the company based in Naivasha will grow the
flowers for the U.S. market, among others.
Even as the country
readies to release the flower, genetically modified products
remain illegal in Kenya, with the government last month noting
it is yet to put in place mechanism that would ensure the seed
is not cross-pollinated, contaminating local varieties during
the field tests.