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Science Academies want states to embrace GMOs

Network of African Science Academies (NASAC) in partnership with the Kenya National Academy of Sciences (KNAS) have urged   African countries to embrace and tap into the huge potential of modern agricultural biotechnology to improve productivity.

KNAS Honorary Secretary Prof. Ratemo Michieka said Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) do not pose any risks to human beings, animals and the environment.

“Scientific authorities around the world such as U.S National Academy of Sciences, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, World Health Organization, American Medical Association for the Advancement of Science, have analyzed thousands of scientific studies and concluded that GM food crops do not pose any risks to people, animals or the environment,” said Michieka.

Michieka further added that GM crops available in the market have the same nutrition and composition as non-GM crops.

“Food from GMOs is digested in the body the same as food from non-GM crops,” Prof Michieka said adding that biotech crops contribute to food security, sustainability and climate change solutions.

He said there is demonstrated evidence which shows that GM crops are more productive than conventional varieties and contribute towards biodiversity conservation and environmental safety through significant reduction on pesticide application on crops and carbon emissions.

Michieka assured that GMOs undergo stringent safety assessment before approval in accordance with national and international science protocols.

He at the same time noted that various countries in Africa, Kenya included have competent national biosafety agencies that carry due diligence in assessing safety of GM products.

Speaking at the event, NASAC’s President Prof. Norbert Hounkonnou, said that more than 100 million people in Africa were facing acute food insecurity due to drought.

“The Science Academies in Africa recommend adoption and commercialization of approved crops as one of the sustainable options in addressing food insecurity and providing livelihoods of the population,” said Hounkonnou.

NASAC said for the continent to enhance acceptance and adoption of GM crops, there must be sound political leadership that appreciates the vital place of science in addressing climate challenges and food insecurity and overlaps in biosafety regulatory and policy frameworks.

Hounkonnou said approval by the political leadership will enhance the approval process of GM products and urged scientists and media to lead from the front in sensitizing the public and combating widespread misinformation, misperceptions and myths about GMOs.

By Hellen Mwangi and Isaac K’Obonyo

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