The government the other day lifted the 10-year ban on planting and importation of Genetically
modified crops. The decision according to the Cabinet was meant to address the issue of food
security in the country following the ongoing drought in about 23 counties and also the pests and
diseases invasion.

The government also approved the adoption of genetically modified cotton, known as BT Cotton
following his visit to Homabay the other day. The issue of lifting the ban has sparked varying
reactions from different people.

The food scientists first welcomed the move by the President and praised him.
“This is a sign, that the President is going to use the evidence generated by the scientists and he
also believes in his own science, him being a scientist, and he is showing us that he wants to
believe in institutions…” Dr. Margaret Karembu, Director ISAAA AFRICENTER commented.
Some researchers explained that the GMO is not dangerous to crops and also it doesn’t pose any
danger to human consumption.
“Well, Genetically Modified organism is just like any other organism that has been improved for
a particular function; the function can be to produce something that can be beneficial or it could
be to tolerate something that is harmful.” Prof. Richard Oduor, a researcher in Kenyatta
University said.

The cotton farmers, mostly from Karachuonyo in Homabay, also welcomed the move saying that
it will boost production of cotton. They just asked the government to accompany the move with
construct for them a cotton factory to help them boost production and create job opportunities.

Busia cotton farmers also said that that is a good idea. They explained that the previous cotton
seeds used to take a longer time in the farm and so the modified one will take a shorter time to
grow and cultivate. This is indeed advantageous to them even if it is small scale farming, the
production will be high.

Some stakeholders from different sectors also said that the president’s decision will help to
increase food production in the country following the food shortage crisis affecting Kenya.
Others. They explained that the President has at least considered the food shortage situation in
the country and it is good of him.

Some have questioned the effects of the Genetically Modified crops saying that they must
consider the reason why it was banned 10 years ago before legalizing it. Main reason for the ban
in the previous years was because of the claims that it causes cancer and so it is harmful for
human consumption.
The government stood to the ground that it has considered recommendations of the taskforce put
in place to inspect or rather survey the matters relating to food security and the Genetically
Modified crops. Also, they considered the reports from experts and technical reports about
adoption of bio-technology. They included reports of the Kenya National Bio-safety Authority,
European Food Safety Authority, USA Food and Drug Administration, World Health
Organization and The Food and Agriculture Organization.
Many of the critics have asked the government to consider public awareness and public
involvement to ensure that the majority are considered to make the move possible. This will be fair
for everyone.

By Calvin Angatia


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