HIGHER Education minister Margaret Kamar yesterday challenged the National Biosafety Authority to embark on public education to demystify misconceptions surrounding modern technology. She was speaking at the opening ceremony of this year's two-day biosafety conference in Nairobi.
Kamar called on scientists to create awareness on biotechnology, which has been hyped as a solution to myriad of challenges facing Kenya, including food shortage and environmental degradation. She said that there is need to effectively implement internationally recognised legal and regulatory framework to ensure the safety of the byproducts.
"Necessary capacity must be put in place to ensure that appropriate measures are taken into account at all stages of biotechnology-related product development, commercialisation and trade," Kamar said. Kenya has embraced biotechnology with the aim of maximising productivity in agriculture and industry, protecting the environment, conserving biodiversity and general improvement of quality of human welfare.
However, majority of Kenyans continue to raise reservations on the consumption of the products, citing negative side effects. Some of the subjects for discussion at the conference include biotech waste management, risk assessment concepts, emergency responses, engineering design and maintenance, and infectious substance shipping and transport. Last year a maize consignment from South Africa that had been shipped to cushion Kenyans from hunger was sent back following prolonged public uproar on the safety of the product.