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Kenyan governors rally behind GM crops

FINANCIAL STANDARD
By Business Beat Reporter | May 10th 2016

Governors want the country to embrace genetically modified (GM) foods to address food shortages. They said this would also enable Kenyans access food at affordable prices all year round.

Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga said GM food has been adopted in developed economies such as the US, so there is no reason for developing countries to impede the wave of change.

“I support it. I embrace it especially in cotton production. In Siaya, we would really like to grow cotton, but the only way to grow this crop will be through GMOs because that is when we will be able to reduce the costs of production,” he said at a recent conference.

While there have been concerns about the health risks that come with GM foods, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said most of what is currently available in the international market has passed safety assessments.

“No effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved,” it has said.

Nakuru County Governor Kinuthia Mbugua said Kenya is cautious about genetically modifying food, but “with time and with the necessary laws having been put in place so that there are regulatory mechanisms on how to utilise and put into use the bio-modified food, I am convinced that as a country, we need not to be left behind.”

He added that increasing food production in the face of Kenya’s growing population and deteriorating soil health is imperative.

Despite agriculture being devolved, Council of Governors Chairman Peter Munya said there are some aspects that are still national, including issues of regulation research and biosafety.

“We must prepare to have these kind of crops to improve our agricultural productivity and deal with some of the challenges in agriculture. The problem is public awareness,” he said.

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