Last week, the
Briefly explain how the journey has been so far for
The roadmap to certification started off in June, 2012 under the stewardship of our top management team, steering committee and the support from the board of management. Through the guidance from
What does this mean for the
Towards the realisation of
When is the first GM crops expected to be commercialised in
We cannot confirm this at the moment since
What are some of the approved GM activities currently going on in
We have approved several GM projects that are at laboratory and confined field trial stage. Some of the ongoing GMO research projects include water efficient maize (drought tolerant maize); insect resistance maize; virus resistant cassava; biofortified cassava; and biofortified sorghum. Confined field trials on Bt cotton had earlier been completed and is ready for the next phase of environmental release application should the developers decide so.
What is Kenya's stand on labelling of GM products?
The Labelling Regulations were gazetted in
Have you started implementing the labelling regulations?
Yes, we have implemented the regulations. However, as stated earlier, the country has not commercialised any GMO for sale and with the current ban on import, there are no approved GM products available in the market at the moment.
In your speech last week, you mentioned that
In response to public demands and expectations, the
What this means is that we are paying more attention to the development process of GMO. This applies mainly to institutions and laboratories involved in the process. As part of our assurance raising and related activities, we intend to assure integrity during the development, handling and transfer of GMOs. We also want to establish mechanisms for regular inventory of biosafety expertise and facilities in
What plans do you have to devolve the activities of
We are working closely with other regulatory agencies like the
What are some of the gains you have made so far?
The authority was established in 2009 after the Biosafety Act was enacted in 2009. The board of management was inaugurated in
The authority has considered and reviewed more than 10 GMO applications on laboratory and greenhouse trials, seven applications on confined field trials, 28 applications on imports and trans-boundary movement of GM products in neighbouring countries. The authority has also endeavoured to monitor approved research projects to ascertain compliance to biosafety laws as well as to the approval conditions. This monitoring is done jointly by
The authority has posted all decisions made in our website -- www.biosafetykenya.go.ke -- as well as the international Biosafety Clearing House for public information and sharing.
In early 2012, the management identified the need for the authority to adapt to acceptable international standards of quality management in order to better serve the needs of our customers. We started the journey with our committed staff and other stakeholders culminating to our ISO 9001:2008 certification.
To enhance surveillance programme and prevent illegal importation of GMOs, the authority opened and deployed biosafety inspectors at major entry points of the country including Mombasa Port, Busia, Namanga and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.The biosafety inspectors in these stations offer advisory services in addition to their routine assignments of sampling and testing for presence of GMOs in imported consignments.
In terms of performance contract being implemented by the government, the authority scores have drastically improved from fair performance in the year 2011 to very good performance in the year 2012 and 2013. The authority has also embarked on implementation of the Vision 2030 programmes on biotechnology initiative geared towards alleviation of poverty and food security.
The authority has been proactive and has partnered with a number of local and international bodies in the development and implementation of sound biosafety framework in the country. Some of these institutions include regulatory agencies such as Kephis, Kebs,
In your view, what would you say about Kenyans' understanding of GMOs, has it improved or is it still shrouded in myths?
Generally, the understanding has improved. However, we still need to do more on public awareness creation and education. There are Kenyans that still think a big chicken, a huge tomato or banana is a GMO, which is not true. These products could be from hybrid seeds that are well nourished.
Do Kenyans really know much about
Some do not understand our role. In the past three years we have been doing a lot of awareness creation by holding workshops and seminars. This year, as we did last year, we shall conduct a media campaign so that we increase the level of biosafety awareness.
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