Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) is one of the most disruptive and revolutionary biotechnology of 21st century. There are controversies over the benefits and harms that this novel technology is being projected to bring to humans and the environment. These controversies are widely propelled by many challenges such as lack of sufficient information, data, misconceptions, regulations, ignorance and philosophical concerns rather than ethics among others. The Kenyan government took a historic step and partially uplifted the ban on the cultivation of Genetically Modified Crops for both food and commercial purposes in December 2019 and fully lifted on 3rd October 2022. The announcement of the cabinet decision lifting the long-standing ban on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on the 3rd of October 2022 elicited mixed reactions from the population amid anticipation in the agri-biotech sector in Kenya.
The Kenyan Cabinet vide a Cabinet Dispatch has since announced the decision to lift the ban on GMOs that was placed in 2013. The ban was as a result of a Taskforce that was formed by the by the then Public Health Minister Hon Beth Mugo minister to ascertain among other things the preparedness of Kenya to embrace GMOs and the reason why some countries have banned GMOs. The taskforce recommended that Kenya did not have enough infrastructure to accept GMOs. The taskforce also stated that Kenya had to conduct research on whether GMOs have negative health effects on humans and environment among other things. The lifting of the ban has reignited the debate as to whether GMOs are safe for human consumption or not with several Organizations among them the Kenyan Peasants League and the Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya moving to court in November 2022. The High Court has since reinstated the ban on GMOs until the case is heard and determined with the Attorney General challenging the decision at the Court of Appeal seeking a Stay of the High Court orders which shall deliver the ruling on 24 March 2023.
It is for this reason that we have organized this Public Lecture so that the young scientists, students, Faculty staff, UoN ALUMNI and other stakeholders can have a space to have an informed discussion on whether "GMOs are the Silver Bullet to the Hunger Situation in Kenya".