State lifts ban on GMO, okays cultivation and importation

The government has lifted its ban on Genetically Modified Crops in the country after 10 years suspension.

This means farmers will now be allowed to cultivate and import food crops and animal feeds produced through biotechnology innovations.

The decision was made during a cabinet meeting today, October 3, chaired by President William Ruto.

Kenya has been reluctant to approve the import or planting of genetically modified food crops since November 2012, amid an ongoing debate about the safety of GMO crops, which are touted to have several advantages such as resistance to drought, pests, and higher yields.

The decision, according to dispatch from the Cabinet was reached 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).

“As part of the medium to long term responses to the ongoing drought, and as a progressive step towards significantly redefining agriculture in Kenya by adopting crops that are resistant to pests and disease…”

In April, the United States government slammed Kenya for its failure to approve imported genetically modified (GM) foods and crops saying the measure is restricting its exports.

The US Trade Representative’s office (USTR) said in its annual report approval by Nairobi could boost agricultural purchases from the US by Kenya which is the world’s biggest producer of GMO crops.

The move has restricted the sales of products from US companies, which have been seeking potential new markets like Kenya.

“Kenya’s GE ban has blocked both US government food aid and agricultural exports derived from agricultural biotechnology,” the USTR said in its annual trade barriers list published in late March.

This year, manufacturers of animal feed have also been urging the government to allow importation of yellow maize and GMO soya beans to cushion farmers against high prices.

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