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May 20, 2018

State launches GMO labelling mark amid jitters of effect on existent ban

Education CS Fred Matiang'i with National Biosafety Authority chair Mary Nyamongo during the launch of the GM labelling mark in Nairobi, Tuesday January 24. /AGATHA WAMAITHA
Education CS Fred Matiang'i with National Biosafety Authority chair Mary Nyamongo during the launch of the GM labelling mark in Nairobi, Tuesday January 24. /AGATHA WAMAITHA

The government has launched a genetically modified organism labelling mark that will be attached to food products on sale.

Willy Tonui, National Biosafey Authority chief executive officer, said the mark will be used on all approved GMOs in Kenya.

This is despite the 2012 cabinet ban on such products and the fact that no GMO crop has been commercialised in Kenya yet.

Tonui said the mark is in readiness for future commercialisation of GMO crops and if or when the ban on imports will be lifted.

"There is no GMO product in the country and people should look out for that mark in future to be sure of what they are buying," Tonui said.

Read: Ban on GMO products positive for Kenya , says Tonui

Also read: Anti-GMO activists want ban on GMO retained as university students threaten protests

"The labelling mark seeks to ensure that consumers are made aware that the food, feed or product is genetically modified so that they can make informed choices," she explained.

"It also facilitates traceability of GM products in Kenya," the GM expert told the Star on Tuesday.

Wanjiru Kamau of the Kenya Biodiversity Coalition said she is jittery about the launch of the GMO labelling mark.

She said that this was suspect since it comes barely few days after the government announced that it is negotiating with Mexico to import maize due to the ongoing drought.

"We still have farmers in Kenya who have maize that the government can buy before using resources to import the food crop," Kamau said.

"At the same time, the government must respect its own rules in relation to the ban by ensuring that any maize getting into the country is GM free," she said.

The agriculture committee of the National Assembly recently upheld the GMO ban that was imposed by the Ministry of Health but left a window for its importation in case of an incidence of food insecurity.

Mandera North MP Adan Nooru - the committee's chair - said a law should be put in place to ascertain the safety of the products for human consumption.

More on this: Muturi tells MPs to investigate ban on GMO food, report within 90 days

 

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