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Kenya: Law on Use of Genetically Modified Crops

(Feb. 27, 2009) On February 13, 2009, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki signed into law the Biosafety Bill of 2008, making Kenya the fourth African nation, after Burkina Faso, Egypt, and South Africa, to allow the use of genetically modified crops for farming. The legislation establishes a National Biosafety Authority under the National Council for Science and Technology to implement the legislation and oversee priorities set by the National Biotechnology Development Policy of 2006. The National Biosafety Authority is charged with the task of “supervising the rapid developments in modern biotechnology and providing the legal framework to allow the cultivation of genetically modified crops.” (David Njagi & Christina Scott, Kenya Prepares to Approve Biosafety Legislation, SCIDEV.NET, Nov. 6, 2008, available at

The Act will remove legal restrictions and allow open field trials that will inevitably lead to agricultural improvements, according to the Director of the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute , Charles Watoro. Speaking about the immediate relief that the Act would bring about, the Director of the African Center of International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, Margaret Karembu, told reporters that the new law will facilitate “the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project to develop drought-resistant maize, which had stalled due to the lack of a legislative framework.” (David Njagi, Govt Approves GM After Years of Delays, SCIDEV.NET, Feb. 18, 2009, available at