Parliamentary committee upholds ban on GMOs

Kenya’s National Assembly Committee of Agriculture last month reinforced the ban on Genetically Modified Products (GMOs) that has been in force since 2012 until the country comes up with the necessary laws the ensure consumer safety despite protests by GMOs adherents.

“There is no evidence of adequate tests to determine the safety of genetically modified products which are still finding their way into the country due to weak border control mechanisms,” said the committee chaired by Mandera North MP Mohammed Noor, in its report.

The committee notes that no GMO product has been tested for safety by the National Biosafety Authority (NBA). The current Biosafety Act passed by Parliament in 2009 has no specific provision for testing for safety,” the report asserts.

The report further emphasizes that the ban should not be lifted because GMO products must pass a preliminary independent verification procedure which covers acute and sub-acute phase of testing before human consumption is allowed. The report is a huge setback for companies and organizations pushing for the introduction of GMOs in Kenya. Proponents of GMOs claim that the GMOs would address food insecurity and malnutrition in many parts of the country and yet there is no evidence for this.

According to a provision of the Cartagena Protocol of which Kenya is a signatory, countries with an interest in GMO technologies are required to conduct independent scientific trials to ascertain the safety of any GMOs that an organization seeks to introduce into their country’s farming systems. The scientific tests should include short and long term effects of the GMO material on people, animals and the environment.

The Kenya Biodiversity Coalition (KBioC) supported the decision by the Kenyan Members of Parliament to ban GMOs in the country. “These men and women have shown exemplary leadership, foresight and patriotism in a matter close to the hearts of Kenyans,” said Wanjiru Kamau, the KBioC spokesperson.

She added that the resources being used to promote GMOs should be allocated to support ecological organic agriculture to nurture a healthy generation, production and consumption of safe food, a healthy environment for all including future generations. She further stated that there was need to carry out independent and long term scientific safety trials conducted under local conditions before GMOs are allowed into the country.