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3rd August 2021
Welcome to issue 42 of the DrumBeat!

This issue highlights two important food security crops that underscore Africa's capacity to develop biotech crops addressing local challenges, for the benefit of Africans – insect resistant cowpea and disease resistant cassava. The video of the month takes us to Nigeria, where we speak to a Bt cowpea farmer on his experience with the recently released SAMPEA 20-T variety. Nigeria is the first country to approve cultivation of genetically modified cowpea, globally.

Our story of the month focuses on Kenya's experience while conducting the first-ever virtual public participation in Africa, following an environmental release application for disease resistant cassava. An approval for the cassava was granted in June, 2021. ISAAA AfriCenter shares five key lessons from this process that could benefit similar projects in the region. Some of these tips were also shared with Golden Rice project team in the Philippines, during a similar virtual public participation process between November 2020 and January 2021. Golden rice received an approval for commercial planting in July 2021.

As Africa moves fast to harness the potential of genome editing in developing crops and livestock suited for the continent's unique challenges, we remain alive to the fact that communication will either hamper or facilitate this technology's uptake. In light of this, and in order to develop a data driven communication strategy that will lay an appropriate foundation, ISAAA AfriCenter invites you to take part in a public perception survey on genome editing in Africa. The survey results will be shared during ABBC 2021, where the African Coalition on Communicating about Genome Editing will be launched. The first five respondents will get a registration fee waiver to ABBC 2021!

Finally, find out what ISAAA AfriCenter has been up to in our 2020 Annual Report under the publications & announcement section. We also call on all Kenyan journalists, who have been reporting on agricultural biotechnology and biosafety, to submit their entries for OFAB Kenya Media Awards 2021, see poster below for details.

Enjoy your read!


Bt Cowpea Renews Farmer Hopes in Nigeria

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Bibiana Iraki Kipkorir

Bibiana Iraki Kipkorir

GM Cassava Approval in Kenya: Lessons from the Virtual Public Participation Process

When the Virus Resistant Cassava for Africa (VIRCA) Plus project team, led by Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO), submitted an Application for environmental release of genetically modified disease-resistant cassava to Kenya's National Biosafety Authority (NBA), it was business as usual. The team had developed a detailed outreach strategy to support the regulatory dossier during the public participation process.

Country / Region Crop Modified Trait Date of approval
Philippines Rice Vitamin A enhanced July 22, 2021
Philippines Brinjal (eggplant) Insect resistant July 23, 2021
Kenya Cassava Disease resistant June 15, 2021
COVID-19 Pandemic Accelerates Global Food Insecurity

COVID-19 Pandemic Accelerates Global Food Insecurity

An increasing number of countries are facing growing levels of acute food insecurity, reversing years of development gains. A report by World Bank shows that COVID-19 impacts have led to severe and widespread increases in global food insecurity, affecting vulnerable households in almost every country, with impacts expected to continue through 2021 and into 2022. Read more here.

Tackling Climate Change: Lessons from COVID-19 Pandemic

Tackling Climate Change: Lessons from COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is a "stress test" for global society, with far reaching impacts across education, economic, health, agricultural, transportation and other sectors. Experts from the University of Zurich (Switzerland), have studied these impacts from a sustainability perspective to determine what lessons we can learn from the pandemic and how they can be applied when dealing with climate change. Read more here.

AfriCenter Annual Report
OFAB Kenya Media Awards 2021 Call