Demonstrators in support of GMO comprising of science researchers and students, academicians as well as farmers take part in peaceful procession seeking to give a voice to the ongoing debate on the Government move to lift a ban on GMOs. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

The Parliamentary Committee of Agriculture and Livestock has urged Kenyans to have faith in and trust the Kenyan institutions, scientists and regulatory bodies working on genetically modified organisms.

The chairperson of the parliamentary committee on Agriculture and Livestock John Mutunga Kanyuithia said that Kenyan institutions can conduct research and regulate genetically modified organisms that can be safely used by Kenyans.

Kanyuithia, who is also the Member of Parliament for Tigania West, was speaking after the conclusion of a three-day workshop to listen to different stakeholders related to GMOs following last year's lifting of the government ban.

“Our institutions and scientists are competent, they can isolate genes, they have moved from what they call recombinant to gene sequencing which means they are at the top of the world, they are doing a great job and we need to trust them,” he said.

He also urged the government to consider supporting research and equity, including regulatory bodies such as the National Biosafety Agency, and KEPHIS.

This he said is to enable them to have enough money to take out correct information and in their correct version to avoid people from guessing and giving their personalized opinions.

One of the requirements from the committee to the presenters was to have facts with verifiable evidence, and according to Mutunga, it is evident that Kenyan scientists have what it takes in the field of biotechnology.

“We had asked them not to come with stories or imaginations, and if you are doing research, tell us this is what I have been doing, I have isolated this, I have combined this, this is the result and these are effects to human beings and the environment,” he added.

The CEO of the National Biosafety Authority Dr Roy Mugiira said that from the presentations made before the parliamentary committee, is evident that Kenya has the institutional capacity spread out across different institutions.

He listed the Kenya Bureau of Standards, (KEBS), KEPHIS, (KARLO) and the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) among others.

“We have witnessed an array of capacities in the country and I want to encourage Kenyans to have confidence in our local institutions. We have realised that there are low levels of public awareness and a lack of confidence and trust in the local institutions and Kenyans should know that which has been taken through a risk assessment process and certified as safe, it is indeed safe.”

The National Biosafety Authority has been charged with the responsibility of regulating the conduct of business in genetically modified organisms.

The purpose of the workshop was to understand the basis of the technology, and the safeguards that have been put in place for instance the regulatory framework so that the parliamentary committee can be able to deliberate on the aspect of the legislation that would be useful in terms of allowing or deploying the technology within the farming community.

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