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National Biosafety Authority ready to release three GMO crops

National Biosafety Authority Chief Executive Officer Roy Mugiira. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The National Biosafety Authority (NBA) is ready to release into the market three more varieties of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) crops once a pending court case is heard and determined.

The authority has fully developed maize, cassava, and potato varieties of GMO.

NBA Chief Executive Officer Roy Mugiira said the introduction of the new varieties of crops would help the country address food security, and reduce imports while increasing exports.

Speaking in Sawela Lodge, Naivasha, during the authority’s 12th AGM, Dr Mugiira said that they are currently working on 42 crops ahead of introduction into the market.

He regretted that the court cases had delayed the release of the crops into the market a year after the government lifted the 10-year ban on the importation of GMO products.

“We are done with research on maize, cassava, and potatoes which are disease and weather tolerant and we shall release them into the market once the court case is done,” he said.

Addressing the Press, the CEO said that they had developed other GMO crops including bananas and Irish potatoes as part of research.

On BT Cotton, which is the only GMO crop grown in the country, Mugiira admitted that there was a shortage of seeds after farmers failed to procure them in time.

He warned that replanting the crop seeds would lower the quality and quantity of the produce and hence the need to go for the hybrid GMO seeds.

“The farmers got the certified seeds from the government free of charge and many of them did not invest in restocking and hence the shortage which has since been addressed,” he said.

Prof Richard Oduor from Kenyatta University said GMO products are fit for human consumption and dismissed myths surrounding the crops as misinformation.

“As we embrace technology from other quarters including motor vehicles, we should accept the same in food production as there are so many misconceptions about GMO products,” he said.

Vivian Iraki, an expert, noted that lack of information among members of the public on GMOs was to blame for the fallacies around GMOs.

“We are working with stakeholders in dissemination of information around GMO products so that we can end all the myths,” she said.

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