EAST AFRICA – The East African Legislative Assembly’s Committee on Agriculture, Tourism, and Natural Resources (EALA’s ATNR) has concluded a comprehensive week-long mission to assess policies and laws regarding Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) across partner states within the East Africa Community (EAC).

Prompted by the region’s pursuit of food security and amidst the ongoing global discourse surrounding GMOs, the assessment covered the Republics of Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, and the United Republic of Tanzania.

In October 2022, Kenya lifted a 10-year ban on GM crops in response to the East African region’s worst drought in 40 years, resulting in contentions among its African counterparts.

Key areas of focus included the partner states’ policies on GMOs, research endeavors, existing laws and regulations, the necessity and contribution of GMO food products, management and control measures, and opinions on harmonizing policies and laws within the EAC.

These oversight activities align with the objectives outlined in The East Africa Treaty on Cooperation in Agriculture and Rural Development, emphasizing the importance of achieving food security and enhancing agricultural productivity throughout the EAC.

The EAC Agriculture and Rural Development Policy further underscores the significance of sustainable food security in combating poverty and driving agricultural development.

Organizational structure and engagement

To efficiently cover all six partner states, the Committee was divided into three sub-committees, with each subgroup responsible for assessing two partner states.

Engaging with relevant stakeholders in each country, including government officials, research institutions, and industry representatives, provided critical insights into the status of GMO policies and practices.

Under the leadership of Hon. Francoise Uwumukiza, Hon. Bigirimana Goreth, and Hon. Godfrey Maina Mwangi, the sub-committees conducted thorough assessments in their designated countries, gathering valuable data and perspectives. The activities were methodically organized to ensure a comprehensive understanding of each partner state’s approach to GMOs.

With the assessments completed, the Committee anticipates leveraging the findings to inform decisions regarding GMO usage within the EAC region.

Additionally, there is consideration for extending similar assessments to other neighboring countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in the future, as part of ongoing efforts to promote regional cooperation and agricultural development.

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