Crop Biotech Update

Cereal Millers Criticize Regulations on GMO Labeling in Kenya

July 6, 2012

The Cereal Millers Association (CMA) in Kenya and other biotech-related stakeholders are calling on the government to review the recently published GMO labeling regulations in the Kenya Gazette Supplement No. 17 of 2012, Legal notice no. 40. Speaking at the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Kenya, the Cereal Millers association CEO, Mrs. Paloma Fernandes said that the regulations are too prohibitive for the milling industry and are likely to cause food shortage in the country this year. The contentious regulations require that all food products with genetically modified content/s be labeled and handled in a manner that can allow traceability from production to marketing.

 "Labeling of genetically modified foods increases food prices for the already overburdened consumer," said Fernandes, adding that most millers are now shying away from importing maize because of the punitive law. "Due to the fear of contravening the labeling regulations, applications from millers to import GM products in Kenya will remain minimal."

The regulations also impose highly punitive fines of KShs. 20 million and a 10 year jail term if a trader fails to comply. The miller's concerns comes at a time with fears Kenya could slump into a food crisis considering the imminent maize shortage triggered by the mysterious maize disease which has substantially reduced farmers' harvests across the country.

Kenyan scientists working in the field of biotechnology research have also criticized the regulations saying that they were not consulted in their development. Prof. Jesse Machuka of Kenyatta University's Biochemistry and Biotechnology Department said that there is an urgent need to review the regulations to allow for timely commercialization of products currently under development. "How regulations are passed and who is involved shows how little scientists in this country are regarded. This regulations does not appreciate science and the critical role scientists are playing in technology development," said Prof. Machuka.

For more information on OFAB Kenya chapter, contact Margaret Karembu at m.karembu@cgiar.org