Cassava researchers have asked the Kenyan government to approve Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) resistant Cassava Line 4046, which can protect farmers of this important crop from devastating losses.
An application from the Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) containing extensive information on the safety of this trait has been accepted by the National Biosafety Authority.
The application is undergoing a science-based review process by the NBA, together with relevant regulatory agencies and independent experts, to ascertain that genetically modified CBSD resistant Cassava Line 4046 is safe to human and animal health, and to the environment. Public input is now being sought through NBA’s website and other stakeholder engagement activities in Kenya.
Based on years of work in the laboratory, greenhouse and field trials, the application was jointly developed with KALRO, the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) Uganda, and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.
Cassava is an important food and cash crop for small-holder farmers in Kenya, but plant diseases including CBSD can destroy up to 100 percent of harvests, threatening livelihoods and family welfare.
CBSD resistant cassava line 4046 exhibits high levels of resistance to infection by the two plant viruses that cause CBSD through a well-known gene silencing mechanism (RNAi). Farmers and consumers will benefit from CBSD resistant cassava as a result of increased cassava root quality and marketable yield.
CBSD resistant Cassava Line 4046 cassava was developed through the Virus Resistant Cassava for Africa Plus (VIRCA Plus), a consortium of Kenyan, Ugandan, Nigerian and American institutions to develop disease-resistant and nutritionally-enhanced cassava varieties to improve the livelihoods and health status of African farm families.
The entire VIRCA Plus project team is excited to reach this milestone in improving agricultural productivity for farmers in East Africa. A positive decision by the Kenya NBA would allow us to move ahead in bringing disease-resistant versions of superior cassava varieties to breeders and farmers.
Although based on a popular cassava variety, the specific line 4046 will not be made available as a stand-alone product. Breeding work is already underway, under Confined Field Trials (CFTs) regulated by the NBA, to develop individual varieties incorporating line 4046. CBSD resistant cassava varieties will be duly registered through the national variety registration system by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS). Seed multiplication and distribution will follow the normal and existing quality seed delivery systems.
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