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Kenya plans using genetically modified animals in research   

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya is on its way to start using genetically modified (GM) animals in research, an official said Wednesday.

Dorington Ogoyi, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the National Biosafety Authority (NBA), said the organization is currently finalizing the development of a draft guideline on contained use of transgenic animals.

“We are leading the way in preparing the ground for regulating biotech animals,” he said during a workshop on regulation of GM animals in Kenya.

Ogoyi noted that NBA is fast-tracking laws that support advancements in animal biotechnology and other areas.

“We have previously over-focused on transgenic crops but this is likely to change with the introduction of GM animal research,” he added.

Ogoyi said that by adapting the technology, Kenya’s is setting the pace for the rest of African countries.

“We are learning from the best practices in the world and drawing useful lessons from countries with GM animal applications,” he said.

He added that Kenya is open to exploring possibilities of building a network of experts in animal biotechnology in the country and the region.

“We are currently building a database on stakeholder experts who are pivotal in steering GM animal applications,” he revealed.

Scientists at the Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organization (KALRO) have been lobbying for commercialization of a genetically modified maize variety.

But though the Bt maize variety has been proven to effectively control stem borer and improve yield and quality due to reduced pest damage, the Kenyan government is yet to allow its growing.

NBA said it is in the final stages of approving the environmental release of two GM crops Bt cotton and Bt maize for commercial cultivation. The two crops have been under confined field trials at the KALRO.

Sorghum, viral-resistant cassava and gypsophila paniculata cut flowers research is ongoing pending approval by NBA.



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