So, what’s the fuss about GMOs?

The author, Ms Martha Nyambura. Photo/ Courtesy

“They say we have an extra gene(s) that we shouldn’t have, says Mandy.

“But that gene kills our major enemy only it doesn’t harm anyone else. The other tiny insects and beneficial organism live happily with us; Genes are gems,” states, Fanny.

Mandy is a maize biotech crop while Fanny is a biotech cotton, the two are cartoon characters created for ISAAA’s first educational cartoon publication on biotech crops- “Mandy & Fanny” to depict the future of sustainable Agriculture.

The two, Mandy and Fanny, converse in a simple and light tone on biotech crops, their advantages and the negative tags they have received from anti-GM campaigners.

In one of the pages Mandy laments, “Some people calls us genetically modified, but truly we are safer than what we were.”

All through the conversation, the two try to enlighten children on their benefits and that having that extra gene makes them stronger and better for farmers and consumers alike.

Globally the world is adopting biotech crops and in Africa, Burkina Faso, Egypt and South Africa are already in the bandwagon of planting and commercialization of biotech crops but still many and especially Kenyans continue to be wary of adopting GM.

In a recent report on examining radio trends in communicating BT, Kenyans were found to be wary of consuming GM unlike their counterparts in Burkina Faso, these mostly attributed to the fact that there is a lot of miscommunication on the topic and when GM comes up its usually negative.

As Mandy and fanny discuss, this negativism about biotech, they make a point of how the countries against BT, usually consume medication made out of BT.

And as Fanny poses, “What’s the fuss?”

In the search for microbicides in the prevention of HIV infection, the research process takes three stages. From the idea to the lab and finally animal testing, we enter into the three stages.

The human test stage -The first Phase is the safety trials, which involves a group of 20-50 people and looks out for negative effects.

The second phase is a more expanded safety trials involves a larger group of volunteers and is used to prove if the substance works.

Phase three tests the efficacy of the product, how effective it is and at this point trials can be stopped.

Fifteen years of growing and eating BT should be enough evidence for the Doubting Thomases out there.

Maybe we need to explore some questions and concerns.

  1. Is BT safe for consumption?
  2. Is it harmful to the soil and the environment?
  3. Is the world populace hungry?
  4. Is BT innovation the way out of poverty and hunger in Africa?
  5. Is it expensive to acquire the seeds?
  6. What are the interests of these investors?
  7. Do developing nations grow these crops?
  8. Do the seeds regenerate?
  9. What is the difference between BT and GM?

Ms Nyambura is a freelance science journalist.


About meshakenya

Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture in Kenya (MESHA) is an association of communicators who are specialized in science, environment, agriculture, health, technology and development reporting.
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6 Responses to So, what’s the fuss about GMOs?

  1. Kenyans still have very little knowledge about GMOs. They rely on media here says which are usually unfounded. Kenyans need to be enlightened on how GM technology ( genetic engineering) , if used appropriately can help solve a number of problems facing them from hunger to diseases.
    Caleb is a Biotech student at KU

    • caleb says:

      will respond to your questions in due time. They are nice questions that if well answered can enlighten on pros and cons of GM technology

  2. Mesha Kenya says:

    This topic is back in the public limelight, it’s interesting to hear a cabinet minsiter admit they passed the biosafety law in haste, on the introduction of GMOs.I think biotech companies need to do capacity building for parliamentarians

    • Tezira says:

      Cabinet Ministers, as politicians, can say whatever they will. After all, they survive and thrive on issuing populist remarks.

      But thanks to the Open Data era that we now live in, Kenyans can access and read the official records of the Kenya National Assembly. Please do a Google search of the following: “Kenya National Assembly” hansard “Biosafety Bill”.

      Enjoy your reading of the intense parliamentary debates!

  3. Sonny says:

    Full publication of “Mandy and Fanny: the future of sustainable agriculture” is translated in Swahili and adopted to African continent, available for free download at:

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