A Scientist’s Dream Coming True

My Journey Towards Development of Disease Resistant Cassava As a young boy, I grew up knowing cassava was an important food crop, especially in times of hunger. My grandmother used to narrate how the crop was once the only food available during the ‘cassava hunger’. But there was little cassava production in my region, and…

KALRO Seeks Approval to Introduce Disease-Resistant GM Cassava

Nairobi, Kenya, May 15, 2020 – Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) has applied to the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) for environmental release (open field cultivation) and placing on the market of genetically modified (GM) cassava resistant to cassava brown streak disease (CBSD). This follows many years of research and evaluation by KALRO in…

Cassava deserves more attention in the BIG FOUR

Improving food security in Kenya requires a comprehensive approach, including looking at alternative staple foods beyond maize, rice, and wheat. Cassava, the fifth major food crop in the world, is a good alternative. Besides its importance as a key food security crop, it can also generate thousands of jobs along the value chain due to…

ISAAA. Pocket K No. 34

RNAi for Crop Improvement   RNA interference (RNAi) is a method of blocking gene function by inserting short sequences of ribonucleic acid (RNA) that match part of the target gene’s sequence, thus no proteins are produced. Since Science named it as “Breakthrough of the Year” and Fortune magazine hailed it as “Biotech’s Billion Dollar Breakthrough”…

J.S. Yadav et al. 2011.

RNAi‐mediated resistance to Cassava brown streak Uganda virus in transgenic cassava   Cassava brown streak disease (CBSD), caused by Cassava brown streak Uganda virus(CBSUV) and Cassava brown streak virus (CBSV), is of new epidemic importance to cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) production in East Africa, and an emerging threat to the crop in Central and West Africa. This study demonstrates…

Wagaba, H., et al. 2017

Field level RNAi-mediated resistance to Cassava brown streak disease across multiple cropping cycles and diverse East African agro-ecological locations   Cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) presents a serious threat to cassava production in East and Central Africa. Currently, no cultivars with high levels of resistance to CBSD are available to farmers. Transgenic RNAi technology was…

E. Ogwok et al. 2012

Transgenic RNA interference (RNAi)‐derived field resistance to cassava brown streak disease   Cassava brown streak disease (CBSD), caused by the Ipomoviruses Cassava brown streak virus (CBSV) and Ugandan Cassava brown streak virus (UCBSV), is considered to be an imminent threat to food security in tropical Africa. Cassava plants were transgenically modified to generate small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) from truncated…

Nehra, N. and Taylor, N. 2015

Improving Crops with RNAi   RNA interference (RNAi)—the process by which small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) bind to and cleave complementary mRNA sequences, inhibiting their translation into proteins—is not new to agriculture. In fact, as a naturally occurring biological process, RNAi was mediating plant metabolism, growth, and pathogen defense long before humans began cultivating crops for…

Hokanson, Karen E. et al. 2016.

Risk assessment of gene flow from genetically engineered virus resistant cassava to wild relatives in Africa: an expert panel report The probability and consequences of gene flow to wild relatives is typically considered in the environmental risk assessment of genetically engineered crops. This is a report from a discussion by a group of experts who…