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Jun 16, 2010

Kenyan Biosafety Guidelines Finalized, Will Be Implemented Soon

On 16 June 2010 SciDev.Net reported that as of May 2010, Kenya's Agriculture Minister, William Ruto was confirming that the country's biosafety guidelines had been finalized.  In June 2010, Harrison Macharia, Chief Science Secretary of the newly created National Biosafety Authority (NBA) also confirmed that this legislation had approved would officially be implement in June 2010.

Kenya's national biosafety law was approved by President Mwai Kibaki, following passage by parliament in February 2009.  When the law is finally implemented, it will make Kenya the fourth African country to implement legislation addressing the commercialization of gene-engineered (GE) crops.  The other three African countries are Burkina Faso, Egypt and South Africa.

According to Muo Kasina, principal research officer at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, he is looking forward to once the law is implemented.  It will allow him to move forward with GE field trials.  In his opinion, "the biosafety regulations in place will ensure the products meet standards for commercialisation and provide the basis for product stewardship."  On the pro-GE crop side, Felix M'mboyi, senior programme officer at the Africa Biotechnology Stakeholders Forum added that members of his organization look forward to conducting field trials with BT cotton and BT maize.

Urging caution, Dr. Ann Kingirim, a Kenyan plant pathologist warned that "although Kenya has the scientific capacity to steer itself towards the [GE crops] path, its regulatory and institutional capacities are not as well equipped to cope with the flow of technology expected to come with the commercial production of [GE crops].  ... Institutional capacity respective to regulatory agencies needs to be streamlined to, for instance, handle the hurdles involved in lengthy seed certification process."

Dino Martins a researcher at Nature Kenya - The East Africa Natural History Society also warned that "Kenya is blessed with a rich diversity of species, including a rich agro-biodiversity on rural subsistence farms ... The new technologies require very sophisticated analysis and tools and systems that Kenya, as a developing country, just does not have and cannot afford."

Miriam Kinyua, a biotechnologist at Moi University, Kenya, added that the new National Biosafety Authority needs to focus on safety structures.   In her opinion, "Kenya should not rush into the production of [GE crops] because it still lacks adequate capacity to deal safely with technologies associated with it ... I expect the responsible board to be guided by facts as we try to put structures in place and strengthen the existing ones."

For more see related blog articles at:


Kenya Launches National Biosafety Authority Board, 21 May 2010.


S. African GE Maize Rejected By Kenya, 8 April 2010.

For the orginial source article see: Njagi, David.  "Years in the making, Kenya's GM law prepares to go live," SciDev.Net, 16 June 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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