House now seeks controlled trial of genetically modified maize

Parliament has called for approval of field trials of genetically modified maize because the ban on GMO imports did not apply to controlled growing tests as well.

The National Assembly’s Agriculture Committee wants the government to facilitate local researchers to conduct field trials of biotechnology maize as long as they are not for cultivation or commercial use.

This comes weeks after Health secretary Cleopa Mailu has rejected the planned trial of genetically modified maize in Kenya, arguing that the Cabinet in 2012 imposed a ban on the importation and consumption of GMO food.

“The National Biosafety Authority should facilitate local researchers to conduct field trials of biotechnology maize to ascertain drought tolerance and insect resistance, as well as collect compositional data for safety analysis, but not for cultivation or commercialisation,” the committee said in a report that was tabled on June 15, the day Parliament took an indefinite end-of-term recess.

The National Environment Management Authority stopped the testing of seeds from Kenya Livestock and Research Organisation and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation last October, after the National Bio-safety Authority allowed them to conduct controlled tests.

Kenyan scientists want a permit to conduct field trials of biotechnology maize developed locally using genetic engineering for resistance to a common stalk borer.

The trials, which were expected to take two years were to be conducted nationwide in the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service’s confined fields and inspected by other State agencies.

Kenya imposed a ban on GMO crops in November, 2012, citing danger to public health.

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