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Ruto’s administration to put half a million acres under GMO seeds by March next year

Ruto’s administration is targeting to put half a million acres under GMO seeds by March-May rainy season next year.

Farmers will have access to genetically modified seeds as the nation progresses toward the commercialization of biotechnology foods, with half a million acres anticipated to be under GMO crops by the rainy season of March to May next year.

According to the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) director-general Eliud Kireger, the agency will distribute certified GMO seeds to farmers during the prolonged planting season.

The action comes after the Cabinet lifted the embargo on biotech crops earlier this month, allowing for their import and growth after restrictions were placed in 2012 due to concerns about their potential negative health impacts.

“The seed will be planted by farmers on 500,000 acres across mid-altitude agroecological zones,” said Dr. Kireger.

This will be the first time Kenyan farmers will be growing GMO maize under open cultivation.

Previously, these varieties were grown under confined field trials on research farms.

On October 3, Ruto’s administration lifted the ban on the cultivation and importation of GMO seeds after 10 years of field trials by local scientists. 

The move has so far elicited opposition from civil society that wants the technology to remain suspended.

The President said the move was aimed at addressing the country’s food security and lowering the cost of maize.

Scientists have over the years argued that the solution to Kenya’s food security lies in technology given the changing weather patterns that have impacted productivity.

“Climate change and severity of drought and emergence of new pests such as Fall Army Worms and maize stalk borer, and diseases such as Maize Lethal Necrosis pose a real threat to food, feed, and nutritional security,” Dr. Kireger said.

He continued by saying that GMO maize will be developed for household and commercial seed, emphasizing that if there were enough seeds, the biotech type would have been available in all regions that grow maize.

According to Dr. Kireger, GMOs have been scientifically shown to be safe for use in food, feed, and the environment, and they are currently permitted for cultivation in about 70 nations globally.

A French scientist’s work linking it to malignant tumors in rats fed GMO crops led to the imposition of the 2012 ban. However, the publication was pulled in 2016.

Also read,

US calls on Kenyans to apply for Green Card; How to apply and Qualifications

Azimio to take the fight against GMOs to parliament as they ask the church to take a stand

Experts oppose Ruto’s plan to reintroduce GMO crops warning of increased cases of cancer

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