GMO technology: Let’s be extra cautious

Sunday April 1 2012

For more than a decade, proponents of agricultural biotechnology have fought bruising battles with opponents of the technology and even those calling for a much more cautious approach.

By the end of last year, they won the war with the country adopting comprehensive regulatory policies, structures and other instruments that allowed for dealing with genetically engineered agricultural organisms.

This means today one can legally import, grow, process, market and even export genetically modified foods in and out of Kenya.

Having achieved its targets, the huge machinery that had been put in place to push for the legalisation of GMO technology must now work to deliver the many promises made along the way.

The advocates have promised more food output, lower production costs and technologies best suited for the changing climate.

These are huge undertakings but over the years, the advocates have presented evidence to prove these targets are met.

It is time now for the activists to give way to extension workers, farmers, processors and marketers to move the technologies from laboratories, workshops and press conferences and turn them in products.

Considering that these and other technologies are still controversial, it is our hope that regulatory institutions and watchdog bodies will be diligent.

Most importantly, they must be transparent especially when entering into agreements with transnational corporations.

While giving the biotechnologists enough time to work, Kenyans must remain vigilant and make sure the highest ethical and safety standards are observed.