Parliament passes GMO Bill
Parliament on Wednesday passed into law the Bill to regulate genetically modified organisms.
The Bill was last year returned to Parliament by the President who recommend certain changes, among them, the name of the law before he could sign it into an act of parliament.
The President in his four-page December 21, 2017 letter expressed concern that the law had in the first place not been clearly named, saying “Biosafety” means “genetic engineering.”
The MPs in a landmark decision at the House sitting on Wednesday responded by replacing the name Biotechnology and bio-safety with a new title, the Genetic Engineering Regulatory Bill 2018.
Now the president has only this chance to sign the GMO bill into law, short of which the law will simply take effect.
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the bill since it was first introduced about five years ago.
The presiding speaker Jacob Oulanyah said that this was a great milestone in legislating for the public good.
“This is a matter that directly affects people, affects us every day,” he said.
The deputy speaker added that “the seriousness we have exhibited on the GMO bill shows the resilience we have developed over time to defend our people.”
According to Mr. Oulanyah, the new law is a product of open negotiations involving the people, government and the civil society, that has seen a shift from the original position to throw the Bill out in its entirety, to a new regulation.
“The sector has to be regulated in one way or another,” said Mr. Oulanyah.
In the new position, the legislators also adhered to the president’s concerns on the fate of ancient crops and livestock with unique genetic configuration by providing for community-based gene banks to cater for indigenous species.
However, the MPs have maintained the use of bacteria as inputs in genetic engineering but with clear fencing to ensure that there is no danger to plants, humans, the environment and animals.
Under the new law, GMOs will have to be clearly labeled to avoid them from being consumed by unsuspecting buyers.
The law will mandate the ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries to work out modalities where all indigenous plant and animal varieties should be kept, uncontaminated with any Genetically Engineered Organism (GEO), for future use if there is any crisis within the modernization efforts.
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