Research agency says Kenya set to lose millions for blocking GM crop trials

A past protest in Nairobi against plans to import GMO foods. PHOTO | FILE
A past protest in Nairobi against plans to import GMO foods. PHOTO | FILE 

Kenya stands to lose millions of shillings in donor funding after the government failed to permit biotechnology crop trials, a State body has warned.

Kenya Agriculture Research and Livestock Organisation (Kalro) said donors would likely divert the money to other countries that have embraced the technology in their farming.

Kalro director-general Eliud Kiplimo Kireger said his organisation receives an average Sh300 million annually while universities and other institutions get more than a Sh1 billion in funding.

“Any support on biotechnology will not come to Kenya. It will go to the countries that are championing the use of technology,” said Dr Kireger in an interview with the Business Daily.

Regionally, Tanzania and Uganda are moving with speed in regard to biotech crops following the adoption of necessary legislation.

Kenya stopped field trials of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) crops besides banning imports, leaving biotechnology proponents at a crossroads. The Ministry of Health last year rejected plans for the release of GM maize for field trials.

The development prompted scientists to write to Health secretary Cleopa Mailu accusing him of interfering with an independent office - the National Environmental Management Authority (Nema)- which was supposed to issue the permits for the trials.

Kalro and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) had submitted the environmental Impact report for the biotechnology crops to the watchdog seeking approval for field trials.

The trials, which were expected to take two years, were to be conducted nationwide at Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service’s (Kephis) fields and inspected by other government agencies.