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Jul 15, 2010

Kenya Hosts East Africa Regional Biosafety Workshop Ahead of Implementing New Biosafety Regs in August 2010

On 15 July 2010, the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation announced that Kenya's new biosafety regulations will be implemented in August 2010.  This follows earlier reports in the late spring that it would be implemented in June 2010.

Speaking at an East African Regional Biosafety Workshop in Nairobi, Harrison Macharia, Kenya's Chief Executive Officer of the National Biosafety Authority says "the regulations will spell out the decision making rules and regulations which must be consistent with international obligations. ... The regulations will be in the public domain and whoever wants to transact business will abide by the regulations.

The workshop sponsored by the African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE).  Its purpose was to provide African scientists from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania with "technical know how ... to inform them of the safety and non safety processes in order to enable them make the right decisions in biosafety." 

According to Deputy Director of ABNE, Samuel Timpo, "[w]ith safety, we are taking them through key considerations on environmental safety and food safety. For the non safety issues, we are explaining what it means to factor in socio economic impacts of the new technology and liabilities.

ABNE was founded in 2008 as a collaboration between NEPAD (The New Partnership for Africa's Development) and Michigan State University (MSU).  It is a continent-wide, science-based biosafety resource for African regulators.  It is funded in part with resources from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  The photo to the right was taken in August 2009 when NEPAD and ABNE formalized their partnership.  Featured in the photo are from the left: Professor Diran Makinde (NEPAD), Provost Kim Wilcox (MSU), Professor Aggrey Ambali (NEPAD), and Carl Eicher, University Distinguished Professor of agricultural, food, and resource economics (MSU). Standing, from the left: Frank Fear, senior associate dean, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (MSU), Cholani Weebadde, assistant professor of horticulture (MSU), Jeff Riedinger, dean of International Studies and Programs (MSU), and Karim Maredia, director, WorldTAP (MSU)
According to Macharia, Kenya's new biosafety director, the new biosafety regulations are "meant to protect, not to harm Kenya. ... The Act is not supposed to bring GMs in Kenya. This act has come to assist Kenyans, because it has come to regulate the unknown."

While waiting for final implementation of the new biosafety law, African scientists have been working on various gene-modified (GM) crop projects related to African agriculture.  For example, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute has been working on laboratory and field trials on GM maize, sweet potato, cassava and cotton crop.   Other scientists have been looking at GE sorghum and investigating the possibilities of crops gene-engineered to be drought-resistant (DT).  "Considering that Africa is a drought prone continent which has rendered farming a risky business for millions of resource poor farmers who rely on rain fed agriculture, scientists say development of these varieties would be a welcome idea."

For related blog articles see:

Kenyan Biosafety Guidelines Finalized, Will Be Implemented Soon, 16 June 2010.

Kenya Launches National Biosafety Authority Board, 15 May 2010.

For more from orginal sources see:

Opondo, Rosalia. "Kenya to implement biosafety regulations," Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, 15 July 2010.

ABNE (African Biosafety Network of Expertise) sponsored by the African Union and NEPAD (The Partnership for Africa's Development)

"Gates Foundation funds new MSU - Africa partnership," Research News, Michigan State University, Winter 2010.
"Understanding Risk Assessment and Risk Management and Decision Making Processes," ABNE East Africa Regional Biosafety Training, Nairobi, Kenya, 14-16 July 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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