Rwanda Wary Of GMO Use In East Africa, Where Legalization Is Underway

Rwanda Wary Of GMO Use In East Africa, Where Legalization Is Underway

From The East African. Story by By Ivan R. Mugisha and Jean-Pierre Afadhali.

Rwanda has expressed concern that it could face an influx of genetically modified crops from Kenya and Uganda, which are in the process of legalizing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

GMO crop imports, particularly maize and bananas, will flood Rwanda as it has no regulatory mechanisms to check such imports, said Geraldine Mukeshimana, Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources.

“We need to fast-track our biosafety standards to enable us deal with GMOs once they are in the country. (East African Community members) are ahead in setting biosafety standards, while we are still defining ours,” she said.

Mukeshimana spoke Monday at the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa general assembly, held in Rwanda. Scientists provided differing opinions on the use of genetically modified seeds.

Rwanda says it will not lift a ban on GMOs despite a sharp decline in its crop yields in the face of erratic weather patterns and diseases that affect maize crops.

Rwanda Wary of GMO use

The contribution of agriculture to the gross domestic product of Rwanda has declined in recent years from 35 percent in 2012 to about 33 percent in 2015.

Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda have hinted that they could open up soon to the use of GMO seeds to increase crop yields.

Kenya is mulling the decision after mounting pressure from the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation. The organisation is citing the increased drought as reason to use GMOs to increase yields.

Last year, Tanzania reviewed its law on GMOs, authorizing scientists in the country to carry out trials on maize and cassava.

Read more at The East African.