GENET archive

[Index][Thread]

POLICY & REGULATION: Kenya approves law to allow GM crops



                                  PART 1


------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   KENYA APPROVES LAW TO ALLOW GM CROPS

SOURCE:  Thomson Reuters, USA

AUTHOR:  Mark Denge & Beatrice Gachenge

URL:     http://af.reuters.com/article/investingNews/idAFJOE76305U20110704

DATE:    04.07.2011

SUMMARY: "Kenya has become the fourth country in Africa to open up to genetically modified crops after approving laws to allow their production and importation. East Africa?s leading economy follows South Africa, a leader in the continent on biotechnology and a major exporter of GM maize, as well as Egypt and Burkina Faso, but it faces growing resistance from lobbyists against the move. In a Legal Notice dated June 22, acting Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Hellen Sambili said the laws would come into effect on July 1, ending restrictions on GM maize and other various products in the country."

----- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/information-services.html -----


KENYA APPROVES LAW TO ALLOW GM CROPS

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya has become the fourth country in Africa to open up to genetically modified (GM) crops after approving laws to allow their production and importation.

East Africa?s leading economy follows South Africa, a leader in the continent on biotechnology and a major exporter of GM maize, as well as Egypt and Burkina Faso, but it faces growing resistance from lobbyists against the move.

In a Legal Notice dated June 22, acting Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Hellen Sambili said the laws would come into effect on July 1, ending restrictions on GM maize and other various products in the country.

?In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 1 of the Biosafety Act, 2009, the Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology appoints the first (of) July, 2011, as the date on which the act shall come into operation,? said the Legal Notice seen by Reuters on Monday.

Kenya?s state-run National Safety Authority last week said it was in the process of creating a legal framework to approve importation of GM maize into the country to mitigate a looming shortage. .

The law will open the Kenyan market, which faces frequent grain deficits, to major suppliers such as South Africa whose exports were affected by the previous ban.

The Kenyan government is anticipating a shortfall in the supply of maize of 14.8 million 90-kg bags in the 2011/12 season due to drought.

But lobby groups opposed to gene alteration, noting health concerns such as development of mutations and allergic reactions in humans, said they plan to oppose the law.

?We are going to hold a demonstration in Mombasa by the end of this week to boycott importation and consumption of GM,? said Betty Mwasia an officer at Telum Kenya, a lobby group that advocates organic farming. Mombasa is the port city and gateway into east Africa.

?We are also considering a court injunction to stop the GM shipment,? she said.

On Friday, another anti-GM group held a demonstration in the capital, opposing the laws allowing GM into the country.

The Legal Notice added that it was illegal to conduct any activity involving GM organisms without the written approval of the National Safety Authority.

?Genetically Modified Organism means any organism that possesses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology techniques,? the Act said in part.

Other African economies are conducting research on GM crops such as maize, rice and wheat that could prove to be the first step towards adoption including Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Mali, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Ghana.



                                  PART 2

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   KENYA NOW ABLE TO PRODUCE, IMPORT GM FOODS

SOURCE:  Voice of America, USA (VoA)

AUTHOR:  Joe DeCapua

URL:     http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/decapua-kenya-gmo-4jul11-124971889.html

DATE:    04.07.2011

SUMMARY: "Kenya is now allowing the production and importation of genetically modified foods. On July 1, a new law took effect making it the fourth African country to allow the crops. The others are South Africa, Egypt and Burkina Faso. Supporters of the law say genetically modified foods will help Kenya deal with chronic grain shortages. In the United States, federal officials say they are safe to eat, but others are opposed to them. The crops are also known as GMO, or genetically modified, organisms, or simply GM, for genetically modified."

----- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/information-services.html -----


KENYA NOW ABLE TO PRODUCE, IMPORT GM FOODS

Kenya is now allowing the production and importation of genetically modified foods. On July 1, a new law took effect making it the fourth African country to allow the crops. The others are South Africa, Egypt and Burkina Faso.

Supporters of the law say genetically modified foods will help Kenya deal with chronic grain shortages. In the United States, federal officials say they are safe to eat, but others are opposed to them.

The crops are also known as GMO, or genetically modified, organisms, or simply GM, for genetically modified.

Dr. Vandana Shiva, director of Navdanya, a research foundation based in New Delhi, India, has long been an opponent of GM foods.

?I have been monitoring this issue since it became an issue. And Africa has been a leader in bio-safety. Africa, 10 years, 15 years ago, was showing that you don?t need GMOs. The fact that Kenya has opened its doors to GMOs is part of the pressure that?s building up with big money?. It?s not really a democratic decision, which is why you?re seeing protests in Kenya,? she said.

The new law states that approval of Kenya?s National Safety Authority is needed before GM business can be conducted.

Grain shortfalls

Shiva disagrees with those who say the modified crops are needed because Kenya faces a chronic grain shortfall.

?GMOs definitely don?t overcome grain shortages. The technology doesn?t allow an increase in yield. So far, all it?s done is introduce two kinds of toxic genes into plants. One, herbicide resistance, which is failing to control weeds in the U.S?and Bt toxin gene, which is also not able to control pests. We have an emergence of resistance in the bollworm in India,? she said.

Safety

The U.S.has said GM foods are safe to eat. Monsanto, a major producer of genetically modified crops, also said the foods are ?safe to eat.?

?Hundreds of millions of meals containing food from GM crops have been consumed and that there has not been a single substantiated instance of illness or harm associated with GM crops,? said Montsanto.

Shiva once again disagrees. She said, ?There are safety issues. The U.S. has never ever done serious trials independent of the company?s. Unfortunately, in 1992 the United States introduced the principle of ?substantial equivalence,? which said treat a genetically modified food as if it is a normal food. And therefore, it is a ?don?t see, don?t look and assume safety? policy.?

On its website, Monsanto states, ?Substantial equivalence is a useful concept which is accepted and utilized by most regulatory agencies worldwide, including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Japanese Ministry of Health and welfare, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. However, substantial equivalence is NOT the end of the assessment process--we still have to address anything that is new or different.?

Shiva describes the U.S. as being ?backward? in bio-safety testing. She added that independent testing done in Europe was ?attacked by the industry? when safety issues were raised.

?Organs are getting affected. Immunity is getting affected,? she said.

Monsanto produces a variety of GM crops. It said, ?All of these crops have been assessed for food and feed safety in producing countries, and many more countries have approved the import of food or food ingredients that contain GM products.?

Organic farming

Shiva and her foundation promote organic farming to solve food security problems. But can organic farming cover Kenya?s food needs, considering the country is in the midst of a serious and prolonged drought?

?The only way to deal with drought is through organic farming because drought means scarcity of water. That means you must have more moisture available in your soil to be able to produce food,? she said. ?The only way you can increase soil moisture is through increasing organic matter. Our research in India shows that we can have as much as a 25 percent increase in organic matter by recycling plant residues, organic manure and doing composting.?

She said this technique not only creates drought resilience but also increases food production.

Our work in India,? said Shiva, ?shows that we can double food production in India if we adopt ecological methods. The United Nations, based on African studies?put out a report showing that ecological methods are?doubling production in Africa. That data cannot be ignored anymore. Kenya can feed itself. Africa can feed itself. The world can feed itself through organic matter.?

Cost

In the United States, organic food often costs more than non-organic food.

?The higher prices that are prevailing in the world across the board on food are because of speculation. As far as organic being costly is concerned, in the supermarkets, yes, but not in the farmers? market. And therefore what we need to do to make organic accessible is to create decentralized distribution systems where there are direct links between the farmers and the eaters,? she said.

Shiva said this has been done in Brazil with great success.

?It?s not organic that?s costly,? she said. ?It?s organic distribution that becomes costly because it has no support, no subsidies of the kind that chemical food. Food controlled by agribusiness gets $400 billion of subsidies in the rich countries.?

Shiva said other countries may follow Kenya in allowing GM foods because of the heavy marketing by Monsanto.

Groups opposed to genetically modified foods plan to release a new report on the matter on World Food Day, October 16.



                                  PART 3

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   KENYA OPENS UP TO GMO CROPS IN WAR ON HUNGER

SOURCE:  Business Daily, Kenya

AUTHOR:  Dennis Odunga & Allan Odhiambo

URL:     http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/Corporate+News/Kenya+opens+up+to+GMO+crops+in+war+on+hunger/-/539550/1194564/-/kp49w2/-/

DATE:    05.07.2011

SUMMARY: "Kenya has removed that last hurdle to the growing and sale of genetically modified crops, opening up the domestic market to cheaper varieties of staple foods such as maize and wheat that could help reduce supply and stabilise prices in the near term. The genetically engineered crops, commonly known as GMOs, got a legal backing last Friday with the publication of a notice opening up the Kenyan market to genetically modified organisms beginning July 1, 2011. People seeking to produce or trade in genetically modified material must, however, get written consent from the National Safety Authority ? the regulator."

----- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/information-services.html -----


KENYA OPENS UP TO GMO CROPS IN WAR ON HUNGER

Kenya has removed that last hurdle to the growing and sale of genetically modified crops, opening up the domestic market to cheaper varieties of staple foods such as maize and wheat that could help reduce supply and stabilise prices in the near term.

The genetically engineered crops, commonly known as GMOs, got a legal backing last Friday with the publication of a notice opening up the Kenyan market to genetically modified organisms beginning July 1, 2011. People seeking to produce or trade in genetically modified material must, however, get written consent from the National Safety Authority ? the regulator.

The coming into force of the Bio-safety Act 2009 offers importers a wider variety of commodities to choose from as they move to ship in staple foods such as maize and wheat to help end the supply shortage that has seen retail prices rise beyond many households in recent weeks.

?There is now room for millers to ship in alternative varieties of maize developed through GM technology that is also cheaper by up to 30 per cent,? said Diamond Lalji, the chairman of Cereals Millers Association.

Traders said GM products are expected to form a sizeable portion of the maize shipments to Kenya between now and December under a special duty-free import scheme that Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta announced in his June budget.

Roy Mugira, the acting head of the newly established National Safety Authority (NSA) last week said the agency will allow importation of genetically modified (GM) maize to mitigate a looming shortage.

?The prevailing circumstances have forced us to expedite the publication of regulations on genetically modified (GM) crops and the guidelines on their importation,? Mr Mugira to Reuters news agency. Publication of the law comes as Kenya is facing an acute shortage of staple maize floor that has resulted in huge price increases and left millions starving.

The government?s decision to open up Kenya to GMOs has rekindled the long-running debate as to whether it is the right policy decision.

Prof Samuel Gudu, a plant breeding specialist and Moi University?s Deputy Vice chancellor in-charge of planning and development, reckons GM technology could help Kenya increase the production of key crops such as maize.

?GMOs are meant to improve the quality of maize. They can protect the crop against insects and what Kenyans should be asking for are the details of the consignment to be brought in as opposed to fear-mongering,? he said.

University of Nairobi?s Centre for Biotechnology and Bio-informatics Director Prof James Opiyo Ochanda said use of GMOs could be beneficial to Kenya?s attainment of food security because genetically engineered crops are resistant to pests and diseases that often require expensive and harmful chemicals to eradicate.

?Instead of applying chemicals, scientists have engineered the plants to introduce genes or molecules that allow the crop to protect itself. This is better than application of chemicals that pollute the environment and harm the body thus posing dangers to our systems,? he said.

Anti-GMO lobbyists have however opposed to the move saying the safety of genetically engineered crops has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt. ?The developers of GMOs have exerted great pressure to ensure that the Biosafety Act of 2009 serves the interests of foreign agribusiness, rather than farmers and consumers,? Ms Anne Maina, an advocacy coordinator for African Biodiversity Network (ABN) said in a statement.

?Introduction of patented seeds and related chemicals into our farming systems threatens our agricultural practices, our livelihoods, the environment, and undermines our seed sovereignty,? she said. The price of maize has risen sharply in the past few months, straining the budgets of most households and adding impetus to inflationary pressure that began in earnest three months ago.

A 90kg bag of maize is currently priced at an average of Sh4,500 compared to an average of Sh3,000 in April ? huge movement in pricing given that a similar amount of the staple food cost Sh1800 in January.



                                  PART 4

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   HUNGER CRISIS REKINDLES DEBATE OVER GM MAIZE

SOURCE:  Daily Nation, Kenya

AUTHOR:  Dennis Odunga

URL:     http://www.nation.co.ke/business/news/Hunger+crisis+rekindles+debate+over+GM+maize+/-/1006/1193214/-/14358km/-/index.html

DATE:    02.07.2011

SUMMARY: "Millers Association chairman Diamond Lalji said they were ready to bring in GM maize to supplement imports from Malawi and Zambia, following the duty waiver on imported maize and wheat announced by Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta in his recent Budget. ?There is no scientific evidence that has cast a spell on GMOs. The crops are as good as naturally grown crops. The resistance to them has more to do with negative perceptions and unnecessary doubts rather than facts,? Dr Lalji said."

----- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/information-services.html -----


HUNGER CRISIS REKINDLES DEBATE OVER GM MAIZE

The deepening food crisis in Kenya that is fuelled by poor harvests and the rising cost of the staple maize meal has revived debate over whether the country should embrace genetically modified imports.

In the past few weeks, millers have publicly pushed for the lifting of a ban on GM maize imports.

Millers Association chairman Diamond Lalji said they were ready to bring in GM maize to supplement imports from Malawi and Zambia, following the duty waiver on imported maize and wheat announced by Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta in his recent Budget.

?There is no scientific evidence that has cast a spell on GMOs. The crops are as good as naturally grown crops.

The resistance to them has more to do with negative perceptions and unnecessary doubts rather than facts,? Dr Lalji said. He also defended millers, saying they had nothing to do with the current maize shortage that has seen the retail price of a 2kg bag of maize shoot up to between Sh140 and Sh160, up from Sh80 three months ago.

Attracted opposition

The association?s position has attracted opposition from campaigners against genetically modified organisms who held a demonstration in Nairobi this week to protest any move towards GM crops.

Others who have consistently voiced opposition to GM maize imports are MPs on the parliamentary committee on agriculture chaired by Naivasha?s John Mututho.

But the pro-GMO campaigners have also received a boost after top biotechnology scholars and researchers at two public universities weighed in on the debate and endorsed GM maize.

Prof James Opiyo Ochanda, the director of the University of Nairobi?s Centre for Biotechnology and Bio-informatics, and Prof Samuel Gudu, a plant breeding specialist, say GM maize is safe for human consumption and will help mitigate the current shortage of the commodity in the country.

Prof Gudu is also Moi University?s deputy vice-chancellor in charge of planning and development.

?GMOs are proven safer than some of the medicines in the market whose efficacy level is between 70-80 per cent. GMOs are 100 per cent safe based on tests done by the World Health Organisation, Food and Agriculture Organisation and many other international testing mechanisms,? Prof Ochanda said.

He said it was unfortunate that some firms dealing with agrochemicals were opposed to GMOs because their universal acceptability was likely to adversely affect their sales.

?Such firms dealing with pest and insect chemicals should tell Kenyans the truth that their concern is how they stand to lose their market share instead of poisoning people?s minds that the GMOs are harmful to human health,? he said.

Scientifically safe

He said GMOs are scientifically safe and are consumed in many countries worldwide without posing any harmful side effects to the respective country?s population.

Prof Ochanda cited the United States, Canada, China, India, Argentina, Brazil and South Africa as some of the countries where GM crops are popular.

?The anti-GMO proponents are prophets of doom who are not keen to improve the country?s food security situation. They are opportunists pushing an agenda that they understand little about,? he said.

He explained that the herbicide and insect-resistant GM maize types limit the application of agrochemicals during the crops? growth and storage and could thus lower the cost of production and increase farmers? profit margins.

?Instead of applying chemicals, scientists came up with a way to introduce genes or molecules that allow the crop to protect itself.

This is better than application of chemicals which pollute and can harm the body, thus posing danger to our systems,? said Prof Ochanda.

He said the country was guided by many institutions mandated to ascertain the safety of products imported and sold in the country and ruled out the possibility that unsafe GM maize would end up in the country.

In addition to universities whose core mandate is to carry out research, he cited the Kenya Bureau of Standards that monitors the quality of products and the Kenya National Bio-safety Authority which addresses the safety of the environment and human health in relation to modern biotechnology.

?The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute are among government institutions that ensure the public is not exposed to harmful products. Let?s rely on facts to spur development in the country,? he said..

Supplement their production

Prof Gudu said GM technology was not meant to hurt locally produced crops but to supplement their production.

He added that all that was required to determine the safety of maize approved for importation into the country is a thorough assessment of the genes in the maize.

?GMOs are meant to improve the quality of maize.

They can protect the crop against insects, and all Kenyans should be asking for are the details of the consignment to be brought in as opposed to expressing fear of GM crops,? Prof Gudu said.

He called on the government to inform farmers of viable agricultural investment options to enable them to make informed choices on GM crops.

He said that some farmers were reluctant to use new certified varieties of fertilizers in the market because they lacked information that the fertilizers had ingredients similar to those they were used to.

?Field extension officers from the ministry of Agriculture should be available to farmers to sensitise them about modern farming practices,? said Prof Gudu.

Dr Lalji added that the country was capable of producing enough food for its population and a surplus for export if the government directed a substantive amount of budgetary allocations for the Agriculture ministry towards increasing the volume of crop production.