KENYA— The Kenyan government has lifted its ban on Genetically Modified Crops in the country after 10 years suspension, permitting farmers to cultivate and import food crops and animal feeds that have been genetically enhanced through biotechnology.
In a meeting Chaired by President William Ruto in State House Nairobi, the cabinet reached the decision in accordance with the recommendation of the Task Force to Review Matters Relating to Genetically Modified Foods and Food Safety, and in fidelity with the guidelines of the National Biosafety Authority on all applicable international treaties including the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB).
The cabinet considered a broad array of proposals touching on climate change adaptation, reducing Kenya’s reliance on rain fed agriculture by increasing irrigation, planting of diverse and drought resistant crops, and the implementation of early warning and response mechanisms.
Kenya has been reluctant to approve the import or planting of genetically modified food crops since November 2012, amid an ongoing debate about the safety of GMO crops, which have been lauded for their advantages including resistance to drought, pests, and higher yields.
After considering various experts and technical reports on adoption of biotechnology the cabinet decided upon it as part of the medium to long term responses to the ongoing drought, and as a progressive step towards significantly redefining agriculture in Kenya.
In April, the United States government slammed Kenya for its failure to approve imported genetically modified (GM) foods and crops saying the measure is restricting its exports.
The move has restricted the sales of products from US companies, which have been seeking potential new markets like Kenya.
“Kenya’s GE ban has blocked both US government food aid and agricultural exports derived from agricultural biotechnology,” the USTR said in its annual trade barriers list published in late March.
The US Trade Representative’s office (USTR) said in its annual report approval by Nairobi could boost agricultural purchases from the US by Kenya which is the world’s biggest producer of GMO crops.
This year, manufacturers of animal feed have also been urging the government to allow importation of yellow maize and GMO soya beans to cushion farmers against high prices.
This decision follows an earlier cabinet decision made In July issuing additional tariff exemptions for genetically engineered Bt. cottonseed cake, distillers’ dried grains with solubles, and rapeseed cake in an attempt to ramp up production of textiles, apparel, feed, and oil-industries towards industrialization.
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