Trial Run: The Success of Bt Corn in Kenya
Corn is one of the staple products in Africa. It gained popularity due to the fact it can be cultivated everywhere and in every possible temperature. Surely, the conditions in Africa are difficult and droughts are common but there are other issues that are causing a lot of trouble for the local farmers.
A couple of species of stem borers are known for attacking corn that is cultivated in Africa. This is a huge problem because thousands and thousands of people are relying on these plants as the source of food. Luckily, Bt corn did show great results in standing up to these pests and managing to thrive perfectly.
A study that examined three harvest seasons in Kenya was released this month in the journal called Crop Protection. The scientists analyzed the produce to the smallest details, measuring both the number of successful crops, as well as the damage that was made by stem borers. This research included eighteen different sorts of crops and they were put to test at Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization. The examined corn ranged from the high-quality GMO hybrids, to local corn species that were not treated with Bt.
So over the course of three planting seasons, scientists measured the damage that was done to all planted crops as well as the general productivity. It was clear that the first planting season was an overall success with all crop variations. However, the number of healthy products did reduce in the second and third season. It was also evident that Bt corn hybrids yielded more produce than any other planted crop. Mon810 hybrids came in second place, while the non GMO corn gave the least amount of usable corn.
Bt and Mon810 corn hybrids performed really well against pests and they were able to keep all species of stem borers away. Since Bt corn is resistant to these pests “from the inside”, there is no need for farmers to spend their funds on various chemicals in order to treat the outside of their crops. Therefore, Bt corn has a huge impact on the economy, and it can be an excellent source of affordable food to the entire region.
Even though GMO seeds are not widespread in Africa, it is clear that the countries that have implemented the new technology into their agriculture are generally more successful. South Africa is the leading force in producing GMO corn and the surrounding countries are following the same path. Since Bt corn seems to thrive in harsh African weather and the crop is resistant to pests, it is clear that this plant might be the future of farming on this continent.
Everyone would benefit from planting and producing Bt corn, but most importantly – a large number of people would stop worrying about their next meal. Famine is a real problem in Africa and since technology did come a long way, this is a step forward in helping those in need. Bt corn did pass the tests and now we can only hope that it will be accepted by the government in Kenya.