- Court of Appeal Judges dismissed the application by the AG who was challenging the order issued by High Court Judge Mugure Thande last year.
- The AG sought to suspend that order arguing the decision of the court was not based on any scientific evidence and had interfered with the freedom and rights of Kenyans who want to trade and consume GMO products.
The Attorney General (AG9 has lost a bid to have orders stopping the importation of genetically modified foods (GMO) suspended.
Court of Appeal Judges on March 31 dismissed the application by the AG who was challenging the order issued by High Court Judge Mugure Thande last year.
The AG sought to suspend that order arguing the decision of the court was not based on any scientific evidence and had interfered with the freedom and rights of Kenyans who want to trade and consume GMO products.
They claimed the order had far-reaching legal, economic and food security ramifications.
Thande in issuing the order on 15 December last year said:
“The court takes note that this is a matter of great public interest moreso to the global uncertainties surrounding GMOs. In light of this, it is in the public interest that the court adopts the precautionary principle pending the hearing of evidence of expert witnesses on the effect of the consumption and growth of GMO products on health and on the environment. Accordingly, the court hereby extends the interim orders pending the hearing and determination of the consolidated petitions.”
That order triggered the application before the Appellate Court by the Attorney General.
The AG in its application for stay argued that the Thande order ignored structures that are in place to regulate the importation of GMOs such as the National Biosafety Authority; the Biosafety Act, 2009 and the Biosafety Regulations.
These structures, the AG said, provide adequate penalties to ensure that Kenyans have the right information on the benefits of GMO products.
Further, there are robust protections under the Cartagena Protocol, the Biosafety Act, of 2009, and the Labelling Regulation 2012 which ensure all GMO products placed on shelves are marked as such, for the safety of Kenyans.
It told the appellate court that unless the stay orders are granted their appeal will be rendered useless as the people of Kenya who are faced with hunger and starvation will be greatly prejudiced.
But the Court of Appeal Justices Mohamed Warsame, Abida Ali Aroni and John Mativo declined to suspend the Thande order and instead directed that the intended appeal be listed for hearing on a priority basis.
They said they are not satisfied that if they don’t lift the order stopping the importation then the appeal will be rendered useless.
President William Ruto’s administration in October Last year lifted the decade-old ban on GMOs in response to the biting drought that has hit the country leading to food insecurity and livestock deaths.
Consequently, two petitions were lodged to challenge the same.
The first petition was filed by Lawyer Paul Mwangi, followed by Kenya Peasants League. The matters were consolidated.
In this case, the petitioners are opposed to the importation, cultivation and consumption of GMOs on the grounds that the decision to lift the ban was not procedural and it was unlawful.
They also contend that GMO products pose a health risk to Kenyans, particularly the poor and those with low incomes.