The Court of Appeal has dismissed the government’s bid to import Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
Justices Mohamed Warsame, Abida Ali-Aroni and John Mativo unanimously agreed that Attorney General Justin Muturi had not convinced them that Kenyans will suffer if the orders issued by High Court Judge Thande Mugure are not lifted.
At the same time, the bench found that Mr Muturi had not explained how his appeal against the orders by the lower court would be rendered useless if the Court of Appeal did not intervene.
“We see nothing for the court to preserve and it cannot be said that the substratum of the appeal will be eroded. In the end, we find no merit in the application as the applicants did not satisfy us on all the three limbs,” the three judges ruled.
The AG, National Biosafety Authority, Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Trade moved to the apex court after Justice Mugure barred the government from importing GMOs to cushion Kenyans from food shortage.
Justice Mugure issued the orders in four cases filed by lawyer Paul Mwangi, the Kenya Peasant League Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya, Kenya University Biotechnology Consortium and Association of Kenya Feeds Manufacturer.
They moved to court after the government lifted the ten-year ban on genetically modified foods.
“The court issue an order prohibiting the government, its agents or anyone acting on their behalf from gazetting or acting on the cabinet dispatch from the executive office of the president regarding the lifting of the ban on the genetically modified organisms,” ruled Mugure.
The judge’s decision came amid a raging dispute between Trade CS Moses Kuria and a section of lawmakers after the CS signaled that the government would import GMO maize.
Several leaders including opposition chief Raila Odinga have also opposed the government’s move to lift the GMO ban.
Back in court, the petitioners argued that there has never been any conclusive scientific research on the safety of GMO foods and that allowing them in the country will not only pose great health risks but also erode the country’s cultural food and farming practices.
President William Ruto had on October 3, 2022 announced that the government had lifted the ban on GMO foods after a cabinet meeting.
GMOs were banned in 2012 by late former President Mwai Kibaki over what the government termed lack of sufficient information on the public health impact of such foods.
Lawyer Mwangi argued that the ban imposed in 2012 was to remain in force until such a time when there would be sufficient information, data, and knowledge demonstrating that GMO foods are not a danger to public health.
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“The hasty removal of all regulations in the cultivation and trade of genetically modified foods in Kenya is unreasonable and a threat to the well being of Kenyans who have a legitimate expectation to clean food and good health,” said Mwangi.