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November 24, 2008

University of Nairobi scientists endorse GM technology

by Gatonye Gathura

Scientists at the University of Nairobi on November 22 said it is safe to accept the introduction of genetically modified organisms into the country. They also asked Parliament to quickly pass the highly controversial Biosafety Bill 2008, saying the technology will enhance food production and that they are ready to take responsibility for their advice.

At a conference after a two-day meeting on biotechnology at the university, scientists from the College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences said although there are genuine concerns over the technology, genetically modified organisms are safe enough for adoption so long as there is sound legislation in place.

“Just like a motor car is undoubtedly good technology, if it’s not used properly it can be harmful,” said Dr John Nderitu, the faculty dean. He added that much of the opposition is not based on any sound science. The researchers presented their statement along with other senior members of the faculty, all of them researchers in one aspect or the other of biotechnology.

Their stand is bound to attract swift rejoinders from the civil society, which is opposed to the introduction of genetically modified organisms into the country. “We have adequate human capacity in this country to offer tested evidence to policy makers as well as carry out the necessary research,” said Dr Nderitu.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is working with the faculty to put up a state of the art biotechnology laboratory at the university to enable their research.

Daily Nation

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