East Africa pushes GM law

Kenya and Uganda are close to passing legislation to regulate biotech use. Research into genetically modified (GM) crops is already underway in both countries, but commercialization requires this law. William Ruto, Kenya's Minister for Agriculture, at the First All-Africa Congress on Biotechnology Congress in Nairobi, confirmed that Kenya was close to enacting it. The legislation would address biosafety concerns and encourage other East African nations to quickly come on board. Adopting an enabling policy would mark a significant shift in a continent long paralyzed by anti-GM activities. Only South Africa and Burkina Faso have commercial plantings of GM crops; fewer than a dozen nations have reported field trials of GM crops whereas 20 are engaged in research and development of GM crops. Some 27 African countries have ratified the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, part of a United Nations convention, which lays down the rules under which GM crops and other organisms can be transferred from one country to another. But only 24 have the capacity and institutions to conduct research and development into agricultural biotech. The director of the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, Ephraim Mukisira, says, “a GM law will help create a vibrant biotech sector and consolidate Kenya as a regional powerhouse in science and technology. Clarity for investors and researchers will speed up existing research and products in the pipeline.”

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Kamanga, D. East Africa pushes GM law. Nat Biotechnol 26, 1209 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt1108-1209b

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