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CONTAMINATION & REGULATION: Kenyan millers must ensure that GM maize imports are not used as seeds



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   STERN WARNING TO GMO IMPORTERS

SOURCE:  Daily Nation, Kenya

AUTHOR:  Gatonye Gathura

URL:     http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Stern+warning+to+GMO+importers++/-/1056/1195288/-/hm81mc/-/

DATE:    05.07.2011

SUMMARY: "Millers licensed to import genetically modified maize must ensure the grain does not end up as seed. Any lapse that could result in the seeds being planted will attract a fine of not less than Sh20 million or a jail term of 10 years, or both, a government agency said on Tuesday. If this happens unintentionally, the importer will meet the costs of removing the seeds from circulation. The acting head of the National Biosafety Authority, Dr Roy Mugiira, said the organisation would ensure such maize was only released as flour."

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STERN WARNING TO GMO IMPORTERS

Millers licensed to import genetically modified maize must ensure the grain does not end up as seed.

Any lapse that could result in the seeds being planted will attract a fine of not less than Sh20 million or a jail term of 10 years, or both, a government agency said on Tuesday.

If this happens unintentionally, the importer will meet the costs of removing the seeds from circulation.

The acting head of the National Biosafety Authority, Dr Roy Mugiira, said the organisation would ensure such maize was only released as flour.

?The relevant parties will be holding a meeting with the Prime Minister to find the best way of handling the issue, including how to make importation more flexible without breaking the law,? Dr Mugiira said on Tuesday.

He hinted that one option being considered was to mill the maize at the point of landing. GM seeds, just like conventional maize, have the capacity to germinate and produce.

Initially, there were plans to sterilise GM seeds to stop them from germinating after harvest but this technology, called terminator, was never commercialised following widespread opposition.

The head of biotechnology at the Kenya Agricultural Research Centre, Dr Simon Gichuki, said the possible GM maize targeted by importers would be from South Africa and does not contain the terminator technology.

?Actually this technology has never been commercialised,? he said on Tuesday. The maize being targeted by the millers has been engineered to develop resistance against weeds and insect pests.

Another type of GM maize is being tested in Kenya for drought resistance but it is not yet ready for commercialisation.

If the current biosafety laws are to be followed strictly, then the earliest the first GM maize can land in the country legally is around October.

According to the Biosafety Act, the regulatory authority will communicate its final decision of approval or rejection of an importing licence not earlier than three months after receiving the application.

?The authority shall communicate its final decision of approval or rejection of the application to the applicant, within 150 days of the receipt of the application but not earlier than 90 days of such receipt,? says the law.

Dr Mugiira said no application has been considered as the authority has not yet published the import guidelines.

After allowing an importer to bring a genetically modified organism on the market, the law also allows any person to submit a written opposition within 30 days from the date the notice is posted.

An official at the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services said no genetically modified maize had been brought into the country yet.



                                  PART 2

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

TITLE:   GMO MAIZE REGULATIONS GAZETTED

SOURCE:  Nairobi Star, Kenya

AUTHOR:  John Muchangi

URL:     http://www.nairobistar.com/national/national/30399-importation-of-gm-maize-to-start-next-week

DATE:    05.07.2011

SUMMARY: "Traders can start importing genetically modified food including maize next week. The head of the National Bio-safety Authority, Dr Roy Mugiira, said regulations on the importation of GM foods will be gazetted by this Friday. ?The regulations will give clear health and environmental guidelines on the foods being imported,? said Dr Mugiira yesterday. He said that the new rules had not been prompted by recent government permission to allowed millers to import GM maize to ease the current shortage of maize."

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GMO MAIZE REGULATIONS GAZETTED

Traders can start importing genetically modified food including maize next week. The head of the National Bio-safety Authority, Dr Roy Mugiira, said regulations on the importation of GM foods will be gazetted by this Friday. ?The regulations will give clear health and environmental guidelines on the foods being imported,? said Dr Mugiira yesterday.

He said that the new rules had not been prompted by recent government permission to allowed millers to import GM maize to ease the current shortage of maize.

According to the new regulations, NBA can license importers for up to 10 years provided their products have no negative effects on health or the environment.

Dr Mugiira said authorities in the country of origin like South Africa would certify foods but once in Kenya more tests would be carried out. ?All imports will need permits from our bio-safety clearing house which is recognised by the Cartagena protocol,? he said yesterday. Last week acting Minister for Higher Education, Science And Technology Prof Hellen Sambili gazetted the 2009 Biosafety Act.

Several MPs and non-governmental organization have opposed GM foods. ?We need protection from the government from these unscrupulous traders who can sell anything to the public just for their financial gain,? said Lari MP David Njuguna. Parliamentary Agriculture committee chairman John Mututho also opposes import of GM foods.

Last week African Biodiversity Network and the Unga Revolution claimed a consignment of GM maize was already in Mombasa waiting to be off-loaded.

ABN advocacy officer Anne Maina claimed animal feeding trials have shown damage to liver, kidney, pancreas, stomach bleeding and effects on fertility. ?We can easily import GMO free maize from Malawi and Zambia who had a bumper harvest last season,? she said. Dr Mugiira however said there is no evidence that GMOs are harmful.

Genetically engineered products usually carry a new gene, which may not be related to the crop, to achieve a desired trait. Scientists may for instance introduce a gene to make GM maize drought or pest resistant.

The gazettement will come as a relief for millers and importers who have been complaining of an acute shortage of maize. The government last week forecast a shortfall of 14.8 million 90-kg bags of maize in 2011/12 due to drought.

Six millers with 20 per cent market share have closed their main plants but said GM would curb future shortfalls. ?Bio-tech is the way we should go and ... it will help us to overcome our perpetual shortage of maize,? said Diamond Lalji, chairman of Cereals Millers Association that comprises 28 major millers in Kenya. ?GM maize is cheaper by about 30 percent compared with non-GM and that is expected to bring down the cost of the final product,? said Lalji. Pembe said millers were paying Sh4,000 shillings per 90 kg bag of maize compared with 1,350 shillings a year ago.

Pembe Flour Mills Ltd, Kenya?s second biggest producing 240,000 kg a day, has not produced any maize flour in the last 12 days. Unga, the country?s fourth largest with brands like Jogoo, shut its plant in Eldoret last Saturday. ?We have a lot of orders pending from (supermarkets) but we cannot supply,? said Abdulmajid Mohamed, a local manager at Pembe. The millers are projecting losses thanks to lower sales, the weak shilling and increased labor costs.

Several EU countries have banned genetically modified maize developed by American firm Monsanto. France banned GMO maize in February 2008 followed by Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and Greece.

In 2009, Monsanto, the world?s biggest seed company sued the German government?s decision to ban the cultivation and sale of genetically modified maize despite European Union rulings that the bio-tech grain is safe. Monsanto?s modified maize seed (MON 810) has been authorized for sale and cultivation in the EU?s 27 member states since 1998. Its 10-year license is currently being renewed and a decision is expected later in the year.