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May 21, 2010

Kenya Launches National Biosafety Authority Board

William Ruto, Kenya's Minister
for Higher Education, Science
and Technology
 Photo: Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation 
ISAAA, a non-profit organization that covers biotechnology issues reports that on 13 May 2010 the government of Kenya formally organized a National Biosafety Authority (NBA) Board.  This was announcement was made by William Ruto, Kenya's Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology.

Minister Ruto stated that "the government was committed to conduct[ing] business in the area of biotechnology in a transparent manner under a biosafety system that will be enforceable by the Biosafety Law. Public participation will be a priority." 

The new Kenyan NBA Board is made up on Kenyan scientists, permanent secretaries from key Ministries, directors of biosafety regulatory agencies and representatives of farmers, consumers and the private sector.

Minister Ruto noted that "the safe application of biotechnology in areas such as agriculture, human health, animal production, trade, industry and environmental management has demonstrated its being one of the best options for development. He added, "the Board will make the country move forward to enhance modern biotechnology and in particular regulate genetically modified organisms and their derived products."

Minister Ruto "called for concerted efforts to assist Kenyan farmers to adopt the cultivation of Bt cotton by next year so that the cotton industry in the country can be revitalized. ... Kenya needs to assess opportunities that introduction of appropriate technologies offer to meet the challenges of feeding a growing population."

Interestingly, until April 2010 Minister Ruto was Minister of Agriculture.  He was asked to leave this position and was reappointed by President Odinga as Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology.  Some stories report that the reason for his reappointment was alleged involvement in a "maize scandal" that involved selling maize outside of the country.  Others report that it is because he is a staunch opponent of the proposed constitution set for referendum in July 2010.  AllAfrica.com reported in on 22 April 2010 that Ruto and Odinga were now engaged in a power struggle.  The ISAAA article makes no note of these political details and recommends contacting Harrison K. Macharia directly at the National Biosafety Authority (harimacharia@yahoo.com) for more information.

Photo Credit: Kenyan Minister William Ruto courtesy of Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation.

For more see:

"Kenya Launches National Biosafety Authority Board," ISAAA Crop Biotech Update, 21 May 2010.

"Ruto Vows Not To Relent in No Push," AllAfrica.com, 22 April 2010.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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