Good Crop, Bad Crop

Kenya’s ban on imports of genetically modified crops reflects a troubling trend in a country traditionally seen as an agricultural innovator. A rational, scientific approach must triumph over prejudice, fear, and speculation – and Kenya can lead the way.

NAIROBI – Kenya’s ban on imports of genetically modified (GM) crops reflects a troubling trend in a country traditionally seen as an agricultural innovator. The move also represents a giant leap backward for a continent that often struggles to ensure its own food security. A rational, scientific approach must triumph over prejudice, fear, and speculation. And Kenya can lead the way.

GM crops (also called genetically engineered or biotechnology crops) have repeatedly been proven to be safe, and are used successfully to boost agricultural productivity worldwide. But bureaucracy, propaganda, and misinformation are preventing millions of African farmers, including in Kenya, from accessing a technology that can improve livelihoods and help to redress food shortages.

More than one million Kenyans currently rely on food aid as a result of the country’s cereal shortfall. The country’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network notes that already-high maize prices will continue to rise until the end of the year, further straining food security and economic performance. As Kenya struggles to feed its people and stabilize its economy, GM technology should be a welcome means to increase yields and incomes, benefiting farmers, consumers, and the environment.

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