Cabinet lifts ban on GMO crops in Kenya

GMO crops are said to have several advantages such as resistance to drought, pests, and higher yields.

President William Ruto speaking during a press briefing on September 28, 2022

The government has lifted the ban on growing and importing genetically modified food as well as animal feeds.

The decision was arrived at during a Cabinet meeting chaired by President William Ruto on Monday, October 3, 2022.

In accordance with the recommendation of the Task Force to Review Matters Relating to Genetically Modified Foods and Food Safety, and in fidelity with the guidelines of the National Biosafety Authority on all applicable international treaties including the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB).

“Cabinet vacated its earlier decision of 8th November 2012 prohibiting the open cultivation of genetically modified crops and the importation of food crops and animal feeds produced through biotechnology innovations; effectively lifting the ban on Genetically Modified Crops. By dint of the executive action, open cultivation and importation of White (GMO) Maize is now authorized," read an excerpt of the Cabinet dispatch.

Ruto explained that the move would ensure early maturity and more production of food to cushion millions of Kenyans from perennial famine.

Today’s decision follows an earlier Cabinet decision made on 19th December, 2019 regarding the commercialization of Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) Cotton Hybrids in Kenya; which is a genetically enhanced variety of cotton that is resistant against African Bollworm, the most destructive and pervasive pest in cotton framing,” the statement from added.

Since November 2012, Kenya has been hesitant to authorise the import or planting of genetically modified food crops, owing to controversy concerning the safety of GMO crops.

The latest move is meant to increase the production of food in the country to alleviate the hunger caused by prolonged drought and reduced rainfall.

GMO crops are said to have several advantages such as resistance to drought, pests, and higher yields.

Cabinet considered a broad array of proposals touching on climate change adaptation, reducing Kenya’s reliance on rain-fed agriculture by increasing irrigation, planting of diverse and drought resistant crops, and the implementation of early warning and response mechanisms that are activated at the very start of adverse situations rather than when the situations have escalated into disaster conditions,” the statement read.

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