16 March 2017

Kenya: Agriculture CS Seeks to Allay Fears State Is Stifling GMO Research

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett has attempted to explain why the government is reluctant to approve the trials for genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Mr Bett sought to allay concerns that the government was opposed to research on the crops, saying there was need to be sure of the impact of any research before it is cleared to proceed.

"The research on GM maize was not stopped," Mr Bett said on the sidelines of a meeting on strengthening small scale farmers' production and marketing by helping them to get direct access to procurement opportunities.

He said the government was not satisfied with the way the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation wanted to handle the process.

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"This is what raised alarm over the field trials. Kenya has not reached that level as the government doubts there is a proper mechanism in place to prevent things like cross-pollination which can contaminate conventional maize," said Mr Bett.

His clarification comes at a time scientists are trying to convince the government to support GMO research in the country and lift the ban on consumption of locally produced GM crops.

The Kenya University Biotechnology Consortium argued that without research, the country might not be able to full appreciate the potential of GMOs in improving food security.

The GM maize developed locally has been awaiting trials

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