From: Otieno Owino, SciDevNet, More from this Affiliate
Published November 30, 2012 06:33 AM

Kenya Bans Imports of GM Food

Scientists fear that Kenya's recent banning of the import of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) may be a significant blow to progress on biotechnology research and development in the country.

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A cabinet meeting chaired by Kenya's president, Mwai Kibaki, this month (8 November), directed the public health minister to ban GMO imports until the country is able to certify that they have no negative impact on people's health.

In a statement to the press, the cabinet said there was a "lack of sufficient information on the public health impact of such foods".

"The ban will remain in effect until there is sufficient information, data and knowledge demonstrating that GMO foods are not a danger to public health," it added.

The directive comes three years after the government's establishment of the National Biosafety Authority (NBA), tasked with exercising general supervision and control of the transfer, handling and use of GMOs.

The NBA board chair, Miriam Kinyua, tells SciDev.Net that for now, the government directive will stand. However, she added that researchers will continue to provide the government with information arising from research into GMO safety, so that a possible review of the directive can be undertaken.

Kinyua says biotechnology research in Kenya will continue, as the ban does not infringe upon existing research and development activities. She also thinks the directive could help intensify research to provide sufficient data and knowledge on biotechnology.

Concept of GM corn via Shutterstock.

Read more at ENN Affiliate, SciDevNet.

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