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A lawsuit against GMOs in Kenya has been dismissed by the court, causing concerns about trade in East Africa.
Africa Economy

A lawsuit against GMOs in Kenya has been dismissed by the court, causing concerns about trade in East Africa.

A court in Kenya has rejected a lawsuit contesting the importation of genetically modified foods, upholding a previous court decision that permits the introduction of GMOs.

The Law Society of Kenya, the leading organization for legal professionals, filed a petition to the court stating that genetically modified food poses a threat to human safety and that reversing the import ban would be against the constitution.

However, in a ruling issued on Thursday, Justice Oscar Angote of the High Court determined that the plaintiffs did not provide sufficient evidence to support their claim that this food poses a danger to human health.

In October of last year, the government of Kenya ended the prohibition of genetically modified foods due to increasing concerns about food shortages and the inability of farmers to meet the demand for food.

GMOs, also known as genetically modified organisms, are created through scientific processes such as recombinant DNA technology. This involves the use of enzymes and laboratory techniques to modify and isolate specific DNA segments. In animals, this process involves reproductive cloning, which produces a genetic copy through somatic cell nuclear transfer.

Angote determined that there was insufficient proof to suggest that the altered food poses any danger to humans.

Additionally, he emphasized the importance of the public having confidence in the regulatory bodies responsible for ensuring the safety and quality of food.

Some doubt exists regarding this issue. Cidy Otieno, the leader of Kenya Peasants League, a group advocating for small-scale farmers, expressed mistrust towards the country’s regulatory organizations.

“He stated that in Kenya, a product called Aromat was sold on shelves for over a year. Despite the country not allowing GMOs, the product contained GMO ingredients and was originally from South Africa.”

According to him, it has been acknowledged that the regulations in Kenya are inadequate.

Kenya’s agriculture sector makes up one-third of its gross domestic product, and farming advocacy groups have raised concerns about its future. They claim that the advanced technology and financial aid provided to American farmers could potentially harm Kenya’s agriculture industry.

The decision of Kenya to permit GMO products is causing concern among its neighboring countries, Tanzania and Uganda, where they are not permitted.

Tanzania declared that it will be cautious about bringing in genetically modified food into its borders.

The countries in East Africa have a contract under the East African Community, which permits unrestricted movement of individuals and merchandise.

Kenyan international relations and diplomacy lecturer Nason’go Muliro expressed concern that the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the area could harm trade partnerships between Kenya and neighboring countries.

Muliro predicts that there will be a resurgence of nontariff barriers. This shift will not center on customs, but rather on standardization. For example, Tanzania could potentially refuse to accept cereals from Kenya due to concerns about GMOs. This will likely cause conflict.

According to Otieno, a member of the Peasants League, the introduction of genetically modified seeds could potentially lead to legal disputes between farmers in Kenya and neighboring countries.

“What concerns us are the potential problems that may arise when a farmer in Busia, Kenya, and a farmer on the Busia border unintentionally cross-pollinate their crops,” he inquired. “For instance, if I am growing GMOs on the border and my neighbor in Uganda is not, there is a risk of pollination. This puts our citizens at the mercy of companies who may impose high fines.”

The advocacy group also stated that they have contested the removal of restrictions on GMO products and farming in the nation, although the outcome of this case will not be determined until later this year.