Detection of genetically modified events in foods imported into Kenya and determinaton of public perceptions towards GMOS
Mugo, Lydia Muthoni
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Numerous advances have been made in the development of new varieties of plants including soybean, maize, rapeseed, cotton and potatoes. A number of the world's governments have authorized the marketing of genetically modified organisms. The general public has shown anxiety over this new technology. The development of genetically modified crops has prompted widespread debate regarding both human safety and environmental issues. Legislation (Cartegena Biosafety Protocol) enacted worldwide to regulate the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), necessitates the development of reliable and sensitive methods for GMO detection. The aim of the study was to detect genetically modified foods imported into Kenya. The study also determined the public awareness, attitudes and perceptions towards genetically modified foods. Information on public perceptions was obtained through questionnaires, which were given to consumers to fill. Twenty three seeds and grains were randomly collected from Kilindini harbor in Mombasa. Extraction of genomic DNA was carried out using Pietsch et al., (1997) protocol. To confirm presence of introduced genes in the plants, designed primer pairs were used in the polymerase chain reaction. Out of 400 questionnaires administered, 80% (n=320) of the consumers were aware of genetically modified foods. On identification, 66% (n=264) knew very little about genetically modified foods. This shows there is a very low level of knowledge on genetically modified foods. Women aged between 26 and 36 years of age were more aware of GM foods than men. On further identification using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), CaMV 35S promoter (198bp), Bar gene (301bp) and Gus gene (680bp) sequences were detected in yellow maize imported from USA. Findings from this study showed that PCR method represents a viable method for detecting genetically modified foods.