GENET archive

[Index][Thread]

POLICY & REGULATION: Kenya set to give green light to GM crops



                                  PART 1


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

TITLE:   KENYA SET TO GIVE GREEN LIGHT TO GM CROPS

SOURCE:  Nature News, UK

AUTHOR:  Natasha Gilbert

URL:     http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110711/full/news.2011.410.html

DATE:    11.07.2011

SUMMARY: "Kenya is expected to become the fourth African country to allow the commercial production of transgenic crops. The country?s National Biosafety Authority is due to publish long-awaited regulations governing the cultivation of genetically modified crops in open fields for research and commercial purposes. [...] ?If Kenya succeeds it will have an impact on others to follow,? says Getachew Belay, biotechnology policy adviser for the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa ? a regional trade block. Belay is leading efforts to create common biosafety rules between COMESA member countries."

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


KENYA SET TO GIVE GREEN LIGHT TO GM CROPS

 

...........................................................................

Although published widely, Egypt does not grow Bt corn. The origin of this information was a fake USDA report from 2008 that reported about an Egypt Bt corn variety approval. This unilateral decision by the Ministry of Agriculture was not based on a decision by the biosafety committee - as reported by USDA - and later revoked.

USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, Global Agriculture Information Network, Report No. EG8008, Date: 4/16/2008 ?On March 24, 2008, the Minister of Agriculture approved decisions made by the National Biosafety Committee (NBC) and Seed Registration Committee to allow for commercialization of a genetically modified Bt corn variety. This marks the first genetically modified crop approved for domestic planting in Egypt.?

In 2009, USDA quietly published an accurate report but never acted to correct the continious quotation of its first wrong report.

USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, Global Agriculture Information Network, Report No. EG9012, Date: 7/15/2009 ?Although Egypt has planted GM corn and cotton in several regions throughout the country to conduct field trails, the situation of biotechnology in Egypt is rather complex in that stalled progress on commercial planting approval for Mon 810 results from bureaucratic territoriality, lack of institutional development, mistakes on the commercial side, the Parliament?s involvement, in addition to some political issues. [...] Although it has not produced any commercial biotechnology crops, Egypt leads the Middle East and North Africa region in the development and acceptance of agricultural biotechnology.?

...........................................................................

 

Bt cotton first in line for open release.

Kenya is expected to become the fourth African country to allow the commercial production of transgenic crops.

The country?s National Biosafety Authority is due to publish long-awaited regulations governing the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops in open fields for research and commercial purposes. Kenya follows Burkina Faso, Egypt and South Africa in giving commercial production of GM organisms the go-ahead.

Kenya?s agricultural researchers say the move could not come soon enough, as the absence of regulations was stalling research.

?Without the regulations, projects can?t move forward into unconfined trials where crops are released into the environment and their performance is tested under different climatic and soil conditions,? says Simon Gichuki, crop scientist and head of the biotechnology centre at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) in Nairobi.

Pest-resistant cotton

The first transgenic crop likely to be put forward for approval for open trials and commercial release is Bt cotton ? which has added genes from the Bacillus thuringiensis bacterium, making the plant produce toxins that confer resistance to some insect pests.

A Bt cotton variety is being developed for Kenyan farmers at KARI. According to the regulations it will take a minimum of three months to get the green light for environmental release after permission is sought from the authorities.

Next in line will be Bt maize (corn), also being developed by scientists at KARI, says Gichuki. Other crops undergoing confined field trials include virus-resistant sweet potatoes and drought-resistant maize, he says.

Kenya passed a biosaftey law in 2009 which allowed the commercial production of transgenic crops in principle. These regulations set out the details of how the law will be implemented, including rules governing experimental lab work and confined field trials, and the import, export and in-country transport of GM products.

For example, when seeking permission to release a transgenic product into the environment or place it on the market, applicants must submit a risk assessment and set out all the uses of the GM crop to the Kenyan biosafety authority. The authority will screen the submissions for accuracy and completeness and must make a decision within 90 and 150 days. The authority must inform the public of all applications for environmental release by, for example, publishing notices in a least two widely circulated newspapers, the draft regulations say.

Setting regulations

Permission for environmental release is granted for a period of 10 years, after which consent must be re-sought. Once a product has been released for 20 years with no reported risks to human health and the environment, it can continue to be released or placed on the market without further approval.

Breach of the regulations could result in a fine of up to 20 million Kenyan shillings (around US$221,000) or imprisonment for up to 10 years.

Francis Nang?ayo, an ecologist and regulatory affairs manager at the African Agriculture Technology Foundation based in Nairobi, describes the regulations as ?precautionary but facilitating the development of biotechnology?.

?Biotechnology has the potential to help solve some agricultural and health problems in Kenya. So it should be harnessed, but safely,? he explains.

For example, Kenya is suffering from a shortage of maize, in part because a drought has destroyed large swathes of local farmers? crops. Without the regulations, Kenya is unable to import the white variety of maize Kenyans like to eat as the majority of this is transgenic, says Gichuki.

Nang?ayo says Kenyan farmers are keen to adopt new technologies, including transgenic crops, that will enable them to produce greater volumes for less money.

Dissident voices

But not everyone is in favour. Anne Wanjiku Maina, advocacy coordinator for the African Biodiversity Network, an anti-GM group based in Thika, Kenya, believes the patenting of seeds is ?unethical? and ?undermines farmers? rights to save seeds?.

?Our public research institutions must shift their focus back to farmers? needs rather than support the agenda of agribusiness,? she said to Nature.

Kenya has the strongest economy in east Africa and will set an example to other countries in the continent, including Nigeria and Ghana which are taking steps to improve national provision for biotechnology and biosaftey.

?If Kenya succeeds it will have an impact on others to follow,? says Getachew Belay, biotechnology policy adviser for the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) ? a regional trade block. Belay is leading efforts to create common biosafety rules between COMESA member countries. (See ?Transgenic harvest?)



                                  PART 2

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

TITLE:   MILLERS SUPPORT IMPORTATION OF GMO MAIZE

SOURCE:  Nairobi Star, Kenya

AUTHOR:  Anjli Parrin

URL:     http://www.nairobistar.com/business/local/31054-millers-support-importation-of-gmo-maize-

DATE:    09.07.2011

SUMMARY: "The specialists from the Africa Agricultural Technology Foundation, Seed Traders Association of Kenya, and International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications assured the public that GM crops were harmless, and that there were adequate structures in place to ensure optimal food safety and quality."

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


MILLERS SUPPORT IMPORTATION OF GMO MAIZE

The Kenya Cereal Millers Association and specialists from food and biotechnology institutions are advocating for the legalisation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Diamond Lalji, chairman of the Millers Association said the perpetual problem of food deficit is a wakeup call for the government and private associations to explore sustainable and lasting solutions. ?It is time we think long-term, our population is growing and our food production is going down,? said Lalji noting that food sufficiency calls for promotion of biotechnology and greater land productivity through irrigation systems. Kenya has been experiencing greater weather volatility due to climate change, leaving the largely rainfall dependent agricultural sector highly vulnerable to droughts. Should the country not begin importing maize within the next two weeks, Lalji warned that there would be no maize reserves left in the country. The specialists from the Africa Agricultural Technology Foundation, Seed
  Traders Association of Kenya, and International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications assured the public that GM crops were harmless, and that there were adequate structures in place to ensure optimal food safety and quality. Biotech crops have been grown on an accumulated 1 billion hectares globally since 1996, a land mass equivalent to the size of China, and are consumed or traded between 4 billion people. In Africa, Burkina Faso, Egypt and South Africa all currently produce GMOs commercially.