A Kenyan court has dismissed a complaint by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) challenging the government’s decision to authorize the cultivation and import of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The decision to allow GMOs, which had been banned since 2012, was made by President William Ruto’s government in October 2022 in response to a severe drought.
The Kenyan Cabinet’s decision was informed by various expert and technical reports on the adoption of biotechnology.
These included reports from Kenya’s National Biosafety Authority (NBA), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United States of America’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
The LSK argued that the decision was unconstitutional and raised concerns about crop safety.
However, Judge Oscar Angote of the Environmental Court in Nairobi ruled that there was no evidence of harm to nature or human health from genetically modified organisms.
“This court has not been shown any evidence to show that the Respondents and the institutions named in the preceding paragraphs have breached the laws, regulations, and guidelines pertaining to GM food, and in particular the approval of the release in the environment, cultivation, importation, and exportation of Bt maize. For those reasons, I dismiss the petition dated January 16, 2023,” Angote ruled.
He emphasized the need to trust regulatory agencies and ensure public health.
Some of the regulations that govern include the Biosafety Act and Regulations and the National Biosafety Authority (NBA).
“With all these institutions, save for NEMA which has not issued an Environmental Impact Assessment Licence, we should be confident that our health and environment are in good hands. it cannot be true that they have all conspired to expose the rest of the population to the calamities alluded to in the petition, at least not from the evidence on record,” said Judge Oscar Angote.
Critics, including activists and agricultural pressure groups, have called the 2022 decision “hasty” and a threat to small farmers, urging for the ban to be reinstated.
Kenya has already approved the commercialization of Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) cotton, a genetically enhanced variety of cotton that is resistant to the devastating African Bollworm.