Ministry of Agriculture Head of
Biotechnology Jane Otadoh told a biotechnology forum that
adoption of agricultural biotechnology has lagged compared to
the rates witnessed in the medical and health sectors.
immediate benefits of the GM are not evident to consumers and
farmers otherwise they would have demanded for it,” she said
in Baringo, which is located 350 kilometres northwest of
In 2012, the government banned
the importation of GM crops until such time as data is provided
to demonstrate that they are safe. She added that biotechnology
is a product of research.
these innovations should be embraced so as to enable Kenya to
achieve its development goals,” she said. Otandoh added that
safety concerns that have been raised are legitimate.
the government has established a regulatory authority to
ensure that all commercially available GM products don’t harm
the public or the environment,” she said.
want to increase the mutual trust and credibility of the
technology so as to reduce the debate that has surrounded the
GMO products,” she said. She said that there has been
exaggeration of negative claims of the biotechnology.
has caused uncertainty among the public who are not
knowledgeable about its benefit,” ministry official said,
adding that the remedy to the misunderstanding is accurate and
will enable the public to make an informed decision,” she
said. The head of biotechnology said that the government will
ensure that when Kenya commercializes GM crops, it will not
affect agricultural exports.
According to the Ministry of
Agriculture, biotechnology is just one of the tools that can be
used to enhance food security.
International Service for the
Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) Programme
Assistant Kwame Ogero said that biotechnology only complements
other tools used to improve crop productivity.
there is never risk in any technology. But appropriate
decisions cannot be made in the absence of complete
knowledge,” Ongero said.
has shown that if relevant questions on the GM technology are
not addressed it will affect the public acceptance, “ the
ISAAA official said.
Baringo County Governor Benjamin
Cheboi said that there a gap between the policy makers,
scientist and the public on issues of biotechnology. He noted
that biotechnology holds great promise for Kenya’s quest to
achieve economic development.
a result, it has become crucial for sustainable development in
agriculture, forestry and medicine,” Cheboi said. He said that
the highest possible priority should be given to the sector.
the adoption of GM crops is undermined as the public is not
aware of its application and benefits,” he said.
Kenya Agricultural Research
Institute Senior Research Scientists Dr Catherine Taracha said
that biotechnology has become an indispensable tool in
addressing crop production constraints.
is demonstrated by the rapid increase in the global adoption
of GM crops since they were commercialized in 1996,” he said.
“Total acreage has increased from 1.7 million hectares to 170
million hectares last year,” he said.
are already four African nations planting biotech crops
including South Africa, Egypt, Burkina Faso and Sudan,” he
KARI Center Director Dr Charles
Waturu said that Kenya is making good progress in agricultural
biotechnology, research and development.
is already a functional regulatory framework to guide research
and trade in GM crops,” he said.
Waturu, who is also the principal
researcher of biotech cotton, said that the crop was originally
meant to be commercialized in Kenya in 2014.
it is still likely to be the first GM crop that will be
commercialized in Kenya,” he said.
University of Nairobi Lecturer of
Biochemistry Professor Edward Nguu said that the debate on GM
products has led to confusion among the potential beneficiaries.
acceptance of new technologies is mostly pegged on people’s
perceptions which are largely shaped by available
information,” he said.
Nguu noted that once farmers see
the benefits, they are more likely to adopt the technology.