We didn’t pass in­sect-re­sis­tant GM maize, Nema now protests

‘De­ci­sion will only be made once the ap­pli­cants have sub­mit­ted a full en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact assess­ment and once we have col­lected pub­lic views’

The Star (Kenya) - - Politics - AGATHA NGOTHO @Agath­aN­gotho

The Na­tional En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity has de­nied claims it ap­proved GM in­sect-re­sis­tant maize for trial.

The Kenya Agri­cul­tural and Live­stock Re­search Or­gan­i­sa­tion and the African Agri­cul­tural Tech­nol­ogy Foun­da­tion in April last year sought the au­thor­ity’s ap­proval to plant GM maize in na­tional per­for­mance tri­als, to de­ter­mine if the crop can be com­mer­cialised.

Nema’s deputy di­rec­tor of com­pli­ance and en­force­ment Zepha­nia Ouma said the the ap­proval is er­ro­neous and will be cor­rected.

“The de­ci­sion to ap­prove, or not to, will only be made once the ap­pli­cants have sub­mit­ted a full en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact assess­ment and once we have col­lected views from the pub­lic and an­a­lysed them,”he said.

This comes de­spite the au­thor­ity’s web­site show­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion was ap­proved, though no per­mit has been is­sued.

Ap­pli­ca­tions are sup­posed to be pro­cessed in 90 days. This has taken an­other 60 days. The ap­pli­cants wrote to Nema, ex­press­ing their frus­tra­tions. They say the de­lay sends mixed sig­nals to the donor com­mu­nity, uni­ver­si­ties and de­vel­op­ment part­ners.

“As sci­en­tists, we have ful­filled all en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact assess­ment re­quire­ments. But it’s tak­ing longer than the ex­pected 90 days, which ex­pired in June, when the de­ci­sion was sup­posed to have been made and com­mu­ni­cated,” said Murenga Mwimali, Wa­ter Ef­fi­cient Maize in Africa-Kenya project coun­try co­or­di­na­tor.

Early this year, the Na­tional Biosafety Au­thor­ity gave con­di­tional ap­proval for re­lease of the Bt maize. But the ap­proval de­pends on an en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact assess­ment by Nema.

Ouma said this could only be done af­ter get­ting pol­icy di­rec­tion from the Agri­cul­ture min­istry.

/ENOS TECHE

A child plays me­tres away from the mother along the Moi Av­enue yes­ter­day. The child is few me­tres from the edge of the busy street on

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