Fate of GMO maize to be determined by July: Agriculture PS

GMO maize

By Edna Mwende

The Principal Secretary (PS) of Agriculture is calling for the lift of the ban on genetically modified crops saying it is the only way that the country can be food secure is by adopting useful technology that can boost production.

The agriculture PS, Prof.  Hamadi Boga made the comment as he announced that the fate of genetically modified maize in Kenya will be determined by July this year.  

“Kenyans will know the decision on whether to allow or not to allow GMO maize in the country in the next two months,” Prof. Boga is quoted as having said in a news report by the Business Daily.

The news report points out that, the decision on commercializing biotech maize was stopped 2017 by the then Health Secretary Cleopa Mailu despite the fact that the release for the consumable had been set for August 2016 when National Performance Trials (NPTs) were supposed to be carried out.

Kenya imposed a ban on genetically modified crops in November, 2012, citing danger to public health; a decision that locked out many countries, including South Africa, from exporting maize to Kenya.

The Business Daily reported that the issue has been ongoing since the year 2000 with the Agriculture PS arguing that the recent weather changes and emergence of pests and diseases can be contained by embracing biotech crops.

On their part, the National Biosafety Authority said they are working to ensure that the crops are safe for human consumption and refuted claims that GMO causes cancer.

“Our work as a regulator is to ensure the safety of consumers and we cannot approve something that is harmful,” Prof Dorington Ogoyi, the Authority’s Chief Executive Officer is quoted as saying by the Business Daily.

The trials, which were expected to take two years, were to be conducted nationwide at the Kephis confined fields and inspected by other government agencies.

The taskforce formed to establish the safety of GMO crops following the ban, and influenced by a scientific journal by Seralini that linked GMO crops to cancer, recommended the lifting of the prohibition on a case by case basis.

The author of the Seralini report is expected in the country next month where he will be hosted by the anti-GMO crusaders.

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