State to appeal court ruling stopping GMO importation

GMO maize

State to appeal court ruling stopping GMO importation. PHOTO | POOL

The Ministry of Agriculture is appealing the decision by the court to stop the importation of genetically modified products, arguing it will hurt the country’s food security.

Agriculture Principal Secretary Harry Kimtai said the Attorney General and the National Biosafety Authority — the regulators of the biotechnology crops — are appealing the decision.

Mr Kimtai says the government's appeal will be backed by science that led to the lifting of the ban last month.

“The Ministry of Agriculture and the National Biosafety is appealing against that decision. The matter was heard from one party and now we expect the court to listen from the side of the government and make a competent decision,” said Mr Kimtai.

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The lawsuit was filed by the Kenyan Peasants League, a lobby representing peasant farmers.

The High Court suspended the government's decision to allow in duty-free genetically modified maize, dealing a blow to the State plan to curb the runaway inflation that has engulfed the country.

Judge Mugure Thande also temporarily barred the importation of GMO products, foods and materials by the government or any person.

On October 3, President William Ruto lifted the ban on the cultivation of GMO products after 10 years of field trials, citing the country’s need to promptly address food security and lower food costs.

The ban had been effected in 2012 following a study by a French scientist that linked it to cancerous tumours in rats that were fed GMO crops.

The group claims that the removal of the ban and regulatory restrictions imposed in 2012 are unprocedural and unlawful.

The court ruling came as a blow to the government which is banking on cheap GMO products to make the cost of flour in the country affordable.

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The shipments were expected to plug a gap triggered by reduced harvest in the wake of prolonged drought, which pushed the cost of a two-kilo maize flour to rise to an average of Sh190 in October.

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