EXTRACT: 'Little wonder that the recent National Biotechnology Development Legislation has attracted a lot of concerns especially from the civil society.' David Mwiraria, Kenya's Environment and Natural Resources Minister
'It is only South Africa [in Africa] that GMO's are used but then it is also noted that this is done with inadequate research capabilities on the impacts to people and the environment...' - Dr.Gabor Lovei, the University of Nairobi
GMO: Kenyan Minister disowns draft biosafety law
Africa Science News Service, 5 November 2007
It has been in the public domain for close to 15 years, but the Biosafety Bill, needed to move adoption and development of crop biotechnology forward in Kenya has never fallen short of controversy.
THE controversy surrounding the planned introduction of Genetically Modified Organisms into Kenyan came into the public again with the government distancing itself from the draft Biosafety Bill.
Environment and Natural Resources Minister, David Mwiraria told a gathering of scientists in Nairobi yesterday that, currently, the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) does not have adequate capacity to make decisions regarding introduction of modified organisms to the environment and market.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Ministry's deputy secretary, Dr Timothy M'mella at the official opening of a six-day training for NEMA staff on introduction to GMO Biosafety Risk Assessment, the minister noted that recent social science studies show that environmental and civil society groups consider GMO innovations and its concurrent bio-safety process as unaccountable and non-transparent.
The course is designed to educate inspectors on the basic skills on the use of scientific data regarding the bio safety and ecological risk assessment of Living Modified Organism (LMO's). Biosafety training’s focal intention is to build a competence in Eastern Africa by providing the countries with the facility to make autonomous decision regarding the use of biotechnology through capacity building in bio safety.
Mwiraria said that the process towards development of the Biosafety Bill could have been managed and directed by the very Kenyan scientist that were developing and promoting GMO deployment. 'Little wonder that the recent National Biotechnology Development Legislation has attracted a lot of concerns especially from the civil society,' he said.
At the same time NEMA conceded that it lacks capacity to identify Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), verify and mitigate impacts brought about by the technology.
Speaking during the ceremony, Dr.Gabor Lovei the project leader from the University of Nairobi said, the Cartagena Protocol on LMO's requires transparent, scientific and case- by- case bio safety with special consideration for the receiving environment consequently African countries which need all the capacity to do all elements of researching, generating and testing of it.
During the training, Biosafe Train also aims to improve existing infrastructural capacity by existing biosafety or biotechnology facilities.
Currently construction facilities are underway in Uganda and Kenya. He also noted that it's only South Africa in Africa using GMO's for its commercial products and urge the rest of the countries to adopt the same
'It is only South Africa that GMO's are used but then it is also noted that this is done with inadequate research capabilities on the impacts to people and the environment after interaction with the modified organisms' affirmed Lovei.
Last Updated ( Monday, 05 November 2007 )