University students want government to issue licence of GMO maize

A file photo of a maize farmer at Kisite area in Msambweni Kwale county. /ELKANA JACOB
A file photo of a maize farmer at Kisite area in Msambweni Kwale county. /ELKANA JACOB

Biotechnology students have criticized the government for frustrating the process of issuing a permit to conduct national performance trials of genetically modified maize.

The university students drawn from 22 public universities expressed concern over delay by the National Environmental Management Authority to issue a license of entry of the GM maize varieties into the national performance trials.

Kennedy Mwangi, from the Kenya Youth Senate said the ban on GMO imports is sending the wrong signal to about 3,000 biotechnology students from over 14 universities offering the course.

“If the government does not give an opportunity for the youth and entire biotechnology sector to practice their skills, then where do they practice or go? If this is not done we demand that the government shuts down universities and colleges offering this courses and refund the hundreds of students their money back,” said Mwangi.

The students complained that failure by NEMA to release the license has an impact on development of the entire biotechnology sector in Kenya and it also contradicts the government's agenda to revitalize agriculture as a vehicle for development.

The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Karlo) and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) submitted to NEMA an environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) report for the entry of the GM maize varieties into national performance trials (NPTs) as required under the NEMA Act.

The license would allow the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) to commence the national performance trials for the GM maize.

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