Scientists urge Kenya to rescind GMO ban

GMT 05:46 2015 Friday ,08 May

Arab Today, arab today Scientists urge Kenya to rescind GMO ban

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
Nairobi - XINHUA

Scientists meeting in Nairobi on Thursday urged the government to lift the ban that was imposed on the importation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in 2012.

The Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB) said that the ban has slowed down the momentum that Kenya has built in agricultural research.

"Other East African countries are proceeding at full speed to commercialize a number of crops while Kenya's progress has stalled, " OFAB Kenya Chapter Programming Committee Dr Margaret Karembu said during a meeting to brief stakeholders on a recent GMOs benchmarking trip to Brazil.

Karembu said that Brazil has managed to become a surplus food producing nation due to their adoption of GMOs. She said that GMOs can also play a role in ensuring that Kenya achieves food security.

"The ban on GMOs was not based on sound scientific evidence and this is having a negative impact on agricultural research," he said.

The OFAB official added that biotechnology can be used develop crops that drought and pest resistant.

"The uptake of biotech crops will have a positive impact on farm income especially for the small scale farmers who spend a large portion of their earnings on crops inputs such as pesticides, " she said.

Karembu, who is also the Director of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) Africenter said that South Africa, Sudan and Burkina Faso are among the African nations that have commercialized GMOs.

She said that Kenya is currently conducting or has completed confined field trials on cassava, cotton, maize, sorghum and sweet potato.

Karembu added that globally there has been a hundred fold increase in the acreage cultivated with GMO crops in the last 19 years.

The National Biosafety Authority (NBA) Senior Biosafety Officer Josphat Muchiri said that his organization has approved 19 laboratory and greenhouses studies since in 2010.

NBA is also reviewing the fees, it charges for conducting research on GMOs. "We want to lower the fees in order to encourage more research in the country," Muchiri said.

NBA charges about 1,800 U.S. dollars for a license for contained use and 8,900 dollars for an environmental release of GMOs crops.

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