The government has lifted a ban on Genetically Modified Organisms, paving way for the cultivation and importation of GMO crops.
In a statement to newsrooms on Monday, October 3, State House Kenya announced that the ban imposed in November 2012 was lifted during a Cabinet meeting chaired by President William Ruto.
Ban on GMO maize lifted
Following the lifting of the ban, the government said open cultivation and importation of white (GMO) maize is now allowed.
"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), Cabinet vacated its earlier decision of 8th November 2012 prohibiting the open cultivation of genetically modified crops and the importation of food crops and animal feeds produced through biotechnology innovations; effectively lifting the ban on Genetically Modified Crops," the statement read in part.
"By dint of the executive action, open cultivation and importation of White (GMO) Maize is now authorized."
The government said today’s decision follows an earlier Cabinet resolution made on December 19, 2019, regarding the commercialization of Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) Cotton Hybrids in Kenya; which is a genetically enhanced variety of cotton that is resistant against African Bollworm, the most destructive and pervasive pest in cotton framing.
"That earlier approval by Cabinet sought to revamp production of textiles, apparel, feed, and oil-industries towards the realization of the industrialization; and today’s Cabinet decision builds on it and also extends its benefits to other agricultural and manufacturing sectors," the government added.
President Ruto convened the meeting with outgoing Cabinet Secretaries to consider the progress made in the national response to the ongoing drought situation that has affected 23 counties.
The Cabinet, State House said, 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.
Revive cotton farming
The lifting of the ban comes a day after the President disclosed plans to revive cotton farming in the country.
Speaking in Homa Bay town yesterday, the President said he had summoned a cabinet meeting today to discuss research by scientists that found BT cotton to be the most efficient and reliable in pest resistance.
“We want to revive cotton farming in Nyanza and parts of Western regions on a large scale to boost the region’s economy,” the President said.
“We want our farmers to get seeds and cotton which will increase their income and which are resistant to diseases,” he added.
“We want to give improved BT cotton seeds to our farmers to enhance the production of cotton so that our farmers can get better returns and develop the textile industry in Kenya in our efforts to improve our industrialization and agro-processing."
Ruto expressed optimism that his administration will revive the cotton ginneries that collapsed decades ago to boost income to households.
In today's meeting, the Cabinet also welcomed the normalization of the education learning calendar with effect from January of 2023, noting that it would herald the conclusion of the recovery of learning times lost due to the school closures occasioned by the COVID-19 Pandemic.