In June 2021, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) received approval from the Kenya National Biosafety Authority (NBA) for environmental release of cassava that is resistant to Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD).
The CBSD resistant cassava was developed under international collaboration between KALRO, the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) of Uganda, and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis USA. The researchers used modern biotechnology to introduce a small part of two viruses that cause CBSD into the cassava plant to make it resistant. The process used augments a naturally occurring plant defense mechanism against viruses.
The improved cassava was evaluated over a period of five years, in confined field trials (CFTs) in five different locations in Kenya and Uganda, and showed high and stable defense against CBSD.
The approval paves the way for conducting national performance trials of these varieties before registration and release to farmers.