This project address two questions: What are the intended and potential unintended consequences of introducing GM cassava in Kenya? How can risks and benefits of introducing GM cassava be communicated to smallholders and other affected stakeholders? These questions are important because cassava is a major food crop of rural African smallholders, many of whom are unable to meet basic food and nutritional needs. Plant scientists have already developed GM technologies to improve yield stability and nutritional content of cassava. What is not known is what the benefits and risks are to smallholders and how to communicate these to them and other stakeholders who might be affected by the new technology. The project will develop new knowledge (e.g., how the introduction of GM cassava will impact various stakeholders in Kenya) and demonstrate practical application (e.g., involving affected stakeholders in informed decision-making, and developing strategies for communicating effectively to stakeholders the potential risks and benefits of introducing GM cassava). Researchers from the University of Missouri will partner with the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and other collaborators in a two-year participatory assessment study of smallholder farmers and other stakeholders in Kenya. In Year 1 we will assess how cassava is produced and consumed and how smallholders would be affected by the introduction of GM cassava. We will also identify other stakeholders and ascertain how the introduction of GM cassava might affect their respective interests. In Year 2 we will develop and implement a communication plan for disseminating our findings to smallholders and stakeholders, including strategies for promoting constructive communication among them regarding ways to improve food security and the potential contributions of biotechnology. Outputs include forums in Kenya, written reports, and policy-oriented publications.
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