Emmanuel Tumusiime
Oklahoma State University
Hugo De Groote
CIMMYT, Nairobi, Kenya
Jeffrey Vitale and Brian Adam
Oklahoma State University

Although the commercial use of agricultural biotechnology in Africa is significantly lower than in most other parts of the world, several African countries have made significant strides towards introducing GM crops. Kenya has been one of the more progressive African countries, particularly in maize, where testing and development of Bt maize has been ongoing since 1999. As part of the introduction process, biosafety protocols are being developed. The protocols require adequate measures to ensure the coexistence between GM and conventional maize varieties, minimize risks of cross contamination, and preserve the biodiversity of traditional maize varieties. Establishing coexistence between GM and conventional maize imposes additional costs on potential adopters of GM maize, especially in Kenya, where adoption will take place within highly populated smallholder farming communities. This article estimates the costs of establishing coexistence between GM and conventional maize in Kenya’s coastal lowlands. Using a transect survey, data was collected on the size and distribution of maize fields at 100 locations in lowland coastal Kenya. Monte Carlo simulation was used to estimate the costs of coexistence, achieved through spatial isolation, and its effect on the potential adoption of GM maize. The results indicate that the cost of coexistence could be prohibitively high if Kenya were to adopt stringent requirements on spatial isolation, such as the measures adopted by Denmark. For meaningful adoption to occur, isolation distances would need to be less than 50 meters.

Key words: Agro-ecological zone, Bt maize, coexistence, regulatory, spatial.