Politics and policy
New plan on GMO rules to reduce risks
Posted Monday, July 30 2012 at 19:44
Kenya plans to develop all the necessary guidelines for handling Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) by the end of year.
National Bio-Safety Authority (NBA) Chief Executive Officer Willy Tonui said the procedures will help consumers tackle the potential risks of biotech products.
“We have already put in place some regulations but by the end of the year, we will have developed all regulations to handle GMOs,” Dr Tonui said during a workshop for the Open Forum for African Biotechnology (OFAB).
He said that so far, there has been no commercial release of biotech products in the market.
“NBA has currently approved five confined trials, including for biotech cotton, fortified sorghum, water resistant maize and cassava,” he said.
He added that NBA only regulates and approves use of biotech products it was up to industry players to meet requirements before their producst are allowed into the market.
Dr Tonui noted that Kenya’s road towards commercialisation of GMOs has been hit by lack of sufficient research to develop products.
Last May, NBA put in place regulations on labeling of products containing GMOs.
“The laws will ensure that consumers are aware of the presence of any GMO material in foods and will also facilitate their traceability,” he said.
According to the authority, there are few certified bio-safety professionals in the country.
“We are therefore developing a curriculum to be used by the universities in order assist in the certification of professionals,” Dr Tonui said.
NBA said Kenya will next month host a national conference to review bio-safety concerns relating to GMOs.
“The first annual Bio-safety Conference will run from Aug 6-9, where over 100 scientists will deliberate on use of biotech to enhance food security in the country,” Dr Tonui said.
OFAB Kenya Chapter Chair Margaret Karembu said the country should have biotech crops available by 2014.
“There is a lot of promising research in biotech crops that are key to food security in Kenya and so our hope is to make them available in Kenya as soon as possible,” she said.
Dr Karembu noted that biotech crops will be one of the solutions to Kenya’s perennial food production deficits.
“Crops that can resist drought conditions will be crucial if Kenya is to increase its food production,” said she.