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Trade CS Moses Kuria to allow duty-free import of GMO maize for six months

Trade, Investment and Industry CS Moses Kuria. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The Government will allow the importation of duty-free Genetically Modified Crops (GMO) and non-GMO maize for the next six months.

This follows an announcement by Trade, Investments and Industry Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria on Thursday, who said the move is aimed at mitigating the food crisis in the country.

“In view of the food situation in the country, I shall be signing instruments to allow duty-free imports of GMO and non-GMO Maize for the next six months,” Kuria tweeted.

Kenya lifted the ban on GMOs last month, after a 10-year suspension.

The decision was arrived at during a cabinet meeting chaired by President William Ruto, noting that the move was to address the ongoing drought, food security, and a progressive step towards significantly redefining agriculture in the country by adopting crops that are resistant to pests and disease.

Kenya has been reluctant to approve the import or planting of genetically modified food crops since November 2012, amid an ongoing debate about the safety of GMO crops.

Several scientists welcomed the move, describing it as “long overdue” and a panacea for the drought and hunger in the country.

According to the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), over four million people are food-starved, and 942,000 children are malnourished. 

By lifting a 10-year ban on biotechnology foods in the country, Kenya officially approved the importation and cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops.

As expected, some scientists welcomed the move, describing it as “long overdue” and a panacea for the perennial drought and hunger. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations statistics shows more than three million Kenyans are at risk of starvation.

The Cabinet lifted the ban after consulting widely, talking to various experts and looking at technical reports on the adoption of biotechnology.

On the other hand, proponents of organic farming were furious terming the decision rushed and that more time was needed for public participation.