Crop Biotech Update

Stakeholders Question Kenya Ban On Importation and Trade of GMOs

December 5, 2012

Biotech stakeholders in Kenya have questioned the motives behind the recent government decision to ban importation and trade of GMOs in the country. The sentiments of the stakeholders came out during the OFAB forum in Nairobi on 29 November.

 "We are concerned that the decision was made hastily because there is a wealth of information regarding the safety of GMOs with the government and its statutory regulatory agencies like the National Biosafety Authority", said Dr. Silas Obukosia, Director of Regulatory Affairs at Africa Harvest while speaking at the forum.

The stakeholders are concerned that if not rescinded immediately, effects of the ban will not only be limited to importation and trade of GMOs, but also will affect other areas of operation in the country's biotechnology sector. "The government directive is already affecting on-going biotech research in the country because scientists are at a loss whether the crops they are researching on will be subjected to unjustified bans" noted Dr. Obukosia. "The psyche and motivation of biosafety experts in government agencies whose expert advice was overlooked while the cabinet was making the decision is also currently at its lowest. Further how does Kenya expect other countries to buy its own GM crop - Bt cotton which is to be commercialized in 2014 while on the other hand it bans GM imports from other countries? Finally, what will be the fate of the approximately 2.2 million food-aid dependent Kenyans considering that the World Food Programme has already pointed out that the ban hampers their food aid operations?" he added.

For more information, contact Dr. Silas Obukosia at sobukosia@africaharvest.org.