Kenya pushes GMO deal at Japan meet

October 11, 2010 12:00 am

, NAGOYA, Japan, Oct 11 – More than 150 member States to the Cartagena Protocol on Bio safety have adopted a supplementary agreement on liability and redress at an ongoing conference in Japan.

The 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP10), on Monday reached an agreement to ensure the safe handling, transport and use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in situations where the organisms might have adverse effects on biodiversity and human health.

Speaking on the sidelines of the conference, Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology William Ruto said that Kenyan delegates had to go into intense lobbying, negotiations and deliberations to have its position adopted by the member States that are signatories to the Protocol.

"It is our position that each country be allowed to deal with liability and redress issues concerning GMO according to the laws of that particular country," he said, adding that the Kenyan delegation burned the midnight oil in Nagoya to ensure that other member States were made to understand the importance of the supplementary deal.

In the end, the Kenyan team emerged victorious when their position was adopted by the conference, pending implementation next year.

The minister noted that there was already an Act of Parliament in place (the Bio Safety Act) that governed the use of GMO technology in the country.

Mr Ruto said that the new agreement would be instrumental in ensuring food security to the over one billion starving population of the world, most of them in Sub-Saharan Africa.

He castigated Western countries opposed to the adoption of the technology in food production saying that countries whose population were food secure had no moral authority to block moves aimed at feeding the world\’s hungry.

The minister revealed that he would soon be gazetting guidelines on how to set up standards for use of GMO technology in Kenya to promote early maturing, disease and pest free varieties and drought resistant crops for arid and semi-arid areas.

The conference further resolved to launch comprehensive educational campaigns in all member States to inform the public on the general use and benefits to be derived from GMO technology.

Mr Ruto said that the global campaign will be geared at eliminating untruths being peddled by various countries, organisations and activists on GMO and to further empower stakeholders at the grassroots with true information on the technology.

He was accompanied by Professor Miriam Kinyua, the chairperson of the National Bio safety Authority in Kenya who said that the new agreement would ensure that persons and organisations who introduced harmful organisms into the environment are held accountable and compelled to make amends to neutralise the adverse effects.

She said that her authority was keen to ensure utmost responsibility in the use of bio-technology and moved to allay fears amongst the Kenyan public of unsafe GMO saying that the Kenya\’s research into the method was almost complete.

"We are confirming the safe use of genetically modified foods without affecting the environment, human health or animals," Professor Kinyua said.


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