Biotech Updates

Kenya Launches National Biosafety Authority Board

May 21, 2010

Kenya's Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology William Ruto launched the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) Board on May 13, 2010. In his speech during the launch, the Minister said that the government was committed to conduct business in the area of biotechnology in a transparent manner under a biosafety system that will be enforceable by the Biosafety Law. Public participation will be a priority. The Minister stressed that Kenyans are eagerly waiting to see how the Board will make the country move forward to enhance modern biotechnology and in particular regulate genetically modified organisms and their derived products.

Establishment of the NBA board is a key provision in the Biosafety Act. The Board is a broad based multi-stakeholder entity composed of eminent scientists, permanent secretaries from key Ministries, directors of biosafety regulatory agencies and representatives of farmers, consumers and the private sector.

The Minister said that the world recognizes the potential role that biotechnology can play in alleviating hunger, poverty and diseases. He noted that the safe application of biotechnology in areas such as agriculture, human health, animal production, trade, industry and environmental management has demonstrated its being one of the best options for development. India and China, he said, are nations that have mobilized commercial capabilities of biotechnology and have taken deliberate policy decisions at highest political and technical levels to harness the benefits of promising technologies such as Bt cotton. The Minister singled out South Africa, Egypt and Burkina Faso as the only countries in Africa which have invested in commercial production of biotech crops. Burkina Faso, for example, has demonstrated that Bt cotton can increase yields by 30%, reduce insecticides application by 50%, and generate higher household incomes.

Hon. William Roto called for concerted efforts to assist Kenyan farmers to adopt the cultivation of Bt cotton by next year so that the cotton industry in the country can be revitalized. In addition, he mentioned that Kenya needs to assess opportunities that introduction of appropriate technologies offer to meet the challenges of feeding a growing population.

For more information, contact Harrison K. Macharia of the National Biosafety Authority At