NAIROBI, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's cabinet on Monday approved the commercialization of genetically modified maize (GM), allowing open cultivation and importation to help revamp agricultural production and manufacturing sectors.
The cabinet chaired by President William Ruto said it made the approval as a step toward significantly redefining agriculture in Kenya by adopting crops that are resistant to pests and disease.
"By dint of the executive action open cultivation and importation of white (GMO) maize is now authorized," the cabinet said in a statement.
The decision, according to the statement, was reached in accordance with the recommendation of the task force to review matters relating to GM foods and food safety, and in fidelity with the guidelines of the National Biosafety Authority on all applicable international treaties including the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB).
The cabinet said the decision was based on the medium to long-term responses to the ongoing drought and a recommendation of the task force.
The move now makes Kenya the first country in the east African region to approve the growing and importation of GMO crops.
Kenya now joins South Africa, Sudan, Egypt, and Burkina Faso which had earlier commercialized the growing of GM crops ranging from maize, sorghum, and cowpea, and also cash crops such as cotton and soybean.
In 2012, the Kenyan government prohibited the open cultivation of GM crops and the importation of food crops and animal feeds produced through biotechnology innovations. ■