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Economy

MPs say GMO ban stays until law for testing put in place

The Cabinet on November 21, 2012 banned the importation of GMO products as a precautionary measure on its harmful effects. PHOTO | FILE
The Cabinet on November 21, 2012 banned the importation of GMO products as a precautionary measure on its harmful effects. PHOTO | FILE 

Parliament wants the ban on importation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) to remain in force until new legislation is put in place to ensure safety of GM food for human consumption.

The National Assembly’s Agriculture committee said no GM product has so far been tested for safety for human consumption by the Biosafety Authority.

In its findings on the inquiry into the ban on GM products, the committee said the present Biosafety Act that was passed by Parliament in 2009 has no specific provision for testing GM products for safety for human consumption.

The Cabinet on November 21, 2012 banned the importation of GMO products as a precautionary measure on its harmful effects.

The government then set up a task force to look into the guiding principles on food safety assessment of GM crops, regulating food safety, the food safety assessment procedure for GM food/feed and safety assessment for products that are developed from within the country. The MPs want the government to fund local independent scientists in national institutions to research on matters relating to GMOs.

“There is need to kickstart commercialization of BT-cotton, however, the government should put in place safety nets to ensure the by-products of non-food GMOs do not find their way into the food chain,” the committee said in the report.

The MPs said the National Biosafety Authority should have a structured working relationship with other bodies to harmonise the process of developing, testing and regulating GMOs in the country.

“The committee recommends that the government encourage and support the development of this technology while at the same time as for all technologies, putting in place safety measure so as to ensure that the GM technology delivers the promises to humanity,” the report says.

The committee chaired by Mandera North MP Mohammed Noor has recommended that the ban on GM products should only be lifted after a number of requirements on handling of the engineered products are met by the country.

“The committee recommends that the ban on GM imports remains un-lifted until such a time when new legislation/regulations are put in place on the safety of GM foods for human consumption,” the report says.

The committee wants all GM products to pass a preliminary, independently varied, 90-day animal feeding study, which covers the acute and sub-acute phase of testing for human consumption.

They also want all GM products to pass an independently varied year animal feeding chronic toxicity test. “The long term tests will involve animal testing for at least three generations to rule out any trans-generational harm,” the report says.

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