Murenga Mwimali, a PhD student in plant breeding at the University of Kwazulu Natal, South Africa, currently hosted at CIMMYT-Kenya, was awarded the best student poster at the first National Biosafety Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, during 6-9 August 2012. Mwimali represented the Insect Resistant Maize for Africa (IRMA) and Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) projects with his poster presentation titled ‘Experiences with postharvest monitoring of volunteer crops at the Kiboko GM Maize confined field trial’. In addition to the award, the poster resulted in a policy recommendation to shorten the post-harvest monitoring period to one month, for GM trials, reduced from the original 52 weeks previously stipulated by Kenyan regulations. The results reported in the poster suggested that longer monitoring time was not necessary, because volunteer plants (which sprout from dropped seed) would likely not appear after two weeks.
The conference focused on the introduction of a biotechnology and biosafety framework in Kenya, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the global status of biotech crops (cotton and maize in Kenya), the role of media and communication networks in disseminating biosafety issues, and the management of public concerns and perception on GMOs.
Congratulations to Mwimali and the IRMA and WEMA teams!