High Court extends orders barring GMO importation
Proponents of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) may have to wait a little longer after the court applied more brakes on plans to import GMOs.
High Court Judge Mugure Thande on Thursday extended orders stopping the ministries of Agriculture and Trade from gazetting any directives regarding GMOs or acting on the Cabinet dispatch that announced the lifting of the ban on GMOs.
Justice Thande observed that the court adopts the precautionary principle as per the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety which aims to minimize potentially harmful effects on the environment and human health, while balancing potential benefits to agriculture and trade.
The lawsuit filed by a group known as the Kenya Peasants League and lawyer Paul Mwangi alleges that GMO products pose a health risk to Kenyans, particularly the poor and those with low incomes.
It also alleges that the government lifted the ban without involving Kenyans through public participation as required by the Constitution.
The GMO debate has also caught the eye the clergy, referencing Chapter 11 of the Constitution that touches on national principles and values of governance.
Religious leaders want the government to suspend Cabinet’s decision to lift the ban on GM products and allow public discourse to take place.
Chapter 11 of the Constitution of Kenya in
Article 174C envisions devolution as a tool that;
“Gives powers of self-governance to the people and enhance their participation in the exercise of the powers of the State and in making decisions affecting them.”
Rev. Father Joseph Mutie of the African Instituted Churches said: “Recognizing this public discourse that has arisen following the resolution by Cabinet to lift of the ban on importation of production of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), we urge the government to suspend the decision until adequate public participation has been conducted.”
Open cultivation and importation of genetically modified crops had been barred since November 2012, but the government lifted the ban in October in response to the worst drought the country has faced in the past 40 years.
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