EAST AFRICA – The East African Community (EAC) is at a crossroads regarding the adoption of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as a solution to food insecurity, with partner states exhibiting varying stances on this contentious issue.

This disparity came to light following a comprehensive report presented by the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) during a recent plenary sitting in Nairobi, Kenya.

The EALA report highlights the divergent perspectives within the EAC regarding GMOs. While some partner states advocate for embracing GMO technology to tackle food shortages and enhance industrial development, others argue that existing agricultural potential is sufficient to meet food demands without resorting to GMOs.

The assessment conducted by the EALA’s Committee on Agriculture, Tourism, and Natural Resources revealed several key findings. Notably, Kenya stands out as the sole country in the region with a specific policy on GMOs, while Rwanda has enacted specific biosafety laws.

Uganda is in the process of formulating dedicated legislation on GMOs, awaiting parliamentary approval.

The report highlighted significant challenges to food production across the EAC, including low and unstable agricultural productivity, inadequate adoption of modern farming technologies, and limited usage of agricultural inputs.

Despite these challenges, the EAC possesses substantial agricultural potential, with Tanzania notably reporting sufficient food production.

Against the backdrop of rising hunger and stunting prevalence in Africa, EALA members emphasized the urgent need for policy harmonization and dialogue among partner states regarding GMOs. MPs stressed that GMOs could offer solutions to pressing food security and climate change challenges if harnessed appropriately, particularly for smaller countries facing land constraints.

In response to the varied perspectives and challenges outlined in the report, the EALA issued resolutions calling for intensified research on GMOs to address stakeholders’ concerns comprehensively. Additionally, the EAC Secretariat was tasked with spearheading dialogue among partner states to reach a common position and harmonize policies and laws related to GMOs.

For all the latest food safety news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.