Ruto lifts ban on GMO (genetically modified crops and animal feeds) after 10 years suspension and US outcry.
The government of William Ruto through a cabinet resolution has lifted the ban on the importation and planting of genetically modified crops and animal feeds, which has been in force since 2012.
This means open cultivation and importation of GMO maize, among food crops and animal feeds produced through biotechnology innovations is now authorized.
The decision was made during a cabinet meeting today, October 3, chaired by President William Ruto.
Since November 2012, Kenya has been hesitant to authorize the import or planting of genetically modified food crops due to a raging controversy about the safety of these crops, which are marketed as having various benefits like increased yields and resistance to pests and drought.
The decision was made in accordance with the Task Force to Review Matters Relating to Genetically Modified Foods and Food Safety’s recommendation and in accordance with the National Biosafety Authority’s recommendations regarding all applicable international treaties, including the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB).
“As part of the medium to long term responses to the ongoing drought, and as a progressive step towards significantly redefining agriculture in Kenya by adopting crops that are resistant to pests and disease…”
In April, the United States government slammed Kenya for its failure to approve imported genetically modified (GM) foods and crops saying the measure is restricting its exports.
The US Trade Representative’s office (USTR) said in its annual report approval by Nairobi could boost agricultural purchases from the US by Kenya which is the world’s biggest producer of GMO crops.
The move has restricted the sales of products from US companies, which have been seeking potential new markets like Kenya.
“Kenya’s GE ban has blocked both US government food aid and agricultural exports derived from agricultural biotechnology,” the USTR said in its annual trade barriers list published in late March.
This year, manufacturers of animal feed have also been urging the government to allow importation of yellow maize and GMO soya beans to cushion farmers against high prices.