African Journal of Biotechnology

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Inadvertent presence of genetically modified elements in maize food products in Kenyan markets

CK Mutoni, E Magiri, IH Boga, S Mugo, ST Gichuki


Kenya has a biosafety law and has tested genetically modified (GM) maize under confinement and containment, but has neither released nor commercialized any GM crop. This study assessed various maize food products from the Kenyan farms and markets for the inadvertent presence of GMOs. It assessed the possibility of ‘gene-flow’ to the maize farms near the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Kiboko where Bt maize was grown in confined field trials (CFT) during 2005 to 2006. The multistage sampling technique was used, while the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and lateral-strip methods were used to analyze 120 food samples. Of these, 6.7% tested positive for cry1Ab, a globally commercialized gene, but were negative for cry1Ba, a non-commercialized gene. Neither cry1Ab nor cry1Ba genes were found in any of the maize certified seed samples. No ‘gene-flow’ was detected within the vicinity of the Kiboko CFT site. The maize imported into Kenya contained Bt genetic elements. Nevertheless, the confinement regulatory measures employed during the CFTs at Kiboko were effective. There is a need to enforce declaration of GM or non-GM and conduction of regulatory detection of food imports and for labelling of food products to enable consumers to make informed choices on what they buy and consume.

Keywords: cry1Ab, cry1Ba, biosafety, GMOs, Bt maize.

African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 12(31), pp. 4881-4890
AJOL African Journals Online