Sunday, August 14, 2011

GM maize imports are now legal

Agnes Wanjiro weeds her maize crop at Yamumbi in Eldoret. Experts say yields from genetically modified crops are higher and cheaper to grow.

Agnes Wanjiro weeds her maize crop at Yamumbi in Eldoret. Experts say yields from genetically modified crops are higher and cheaper to grow. 

By Nation Reporter

Kenyans can now legally import genetically modified maize after the guidelines were gazetted on Friday.

The guidelines control how to import, export and transit such materials in Kenya.

Three supplementary legal notices, The Biosafety Regulations, 2011 were printed late on Friday and will be available to the public on Monday.

Breaching the guidelines attracts a jail term of 10 years or a fine of Sh20 million or both, an earlier draft of the regulations says.

In late November

Publication of the guidelines means importers can now apply to the National Biosafety Authority and the earliest the maize would reach the country is in late November.

According to the Biosafety Act, the application takes between 90 and 150 days to be approved but the authority may grant it earlier if processed products are being brought in.

The new development will come as good news for relief agencies who have been pushing the government to let them bring food supplements containing genetically modified organisms such as soya products.

Quick importation may, however, be hindered by a requirement that any GM food products be labelled appropriately as the National Biosafety Authority is still working on the labelling details.

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