Biosafety is a concept that refers to measures put in place to mitigate or protect human health and the environment from possible adverse effects of the products of modern biotechnology. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety provides a comprehensive and holistic regime designed to ensure that the development, handling, transport and use of products of modern biotechnology are undertaken in a manner that maximizes benefits while preventing or reducing risks to the environment and human health. The Protocol is a subsidiary agreement to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
Kenya signed the Biosafety Protocol in 2000 and fulfilled the ratification requirements in 2003. Kenya has since enacted a biosafety la, the Biosafety act No 2 of 2009. In this Act the national Biosafety Committee has been now replaced with the national Biosafety Authority – NBA. The roles of the NBA are stipulated in this Act and include receiving, reviewing ad making decisions on applications to introduce/develop biotechnology products for research or commercial purposes into the country. The NBA is run by board which comprises eight regulatory agencies. These are; The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS), the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), the Public Health Department and the Pest Control Products Board (PCPB) are among the key biosafety regulatory agencies represented on the NBA board. Others include the Ministry of Agriculture and representatives of interest groups such the Consumer Information network.
Vigilances for the Government and industry on matters of
* Plant health control, quarantine control and quality control.
* Plant variety protection, testing and release of new varieties.
* Seed inspection and certification
* Regulatory agency for genetically modified plants and regulated articles
* Monitoring of containment facilities for trials of GMOs of plant origin.
In this regard:
* Import Permits are issued with conditions to comply with the requirements of the approval by the NBA.
* Unmilled grain and un processed foods, seeds and plant material are checked for presence of unauthorised genetically engineered processes/ expressions.
* Release of new varieties is undertaken according to the National Variety Release System which is supervised by KEPHIS and includes certification of genetic conformity.
The institution is represented as:
* Member of the National Biosafety Authority Board and Institutional Biosafety Committees - IBCs
* The Secretariat of the Kenya Standing Technical Committee on Imports and Exports - KSTCIE
* Member of National Food Safety Coordination Committee
* Member of National Codex Committee
* Participant in major international forums including the Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Taskforce on Food Derived from Recombinant DNA Plants of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, International Plant Protection Convention - IPPC standard setting body, the Commission on Phytosanitary Measure and the WTO SPS Committee among others.
Capacity building Activities
* Laboratory capacity to detect GM materials has been strengthened
* Staffs continue to be trained for GMO detection and decision making.
Monitoring and testing
* Development of specific protocols is on-going
On-going work on genetically engineered plants
* There are NO genetically engineered products that are officially released in the country.
* Some of the Activities that have been approved for trial purposes include testing of Efficacy of Bt genes in Cotton and Maize, trials on sweet potato and cassava. Various proposed trial activities are underway.
One of the key obligations of the Contracting Parties to the CBD – Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is promotion and facilitation of public awareness, education and participation in regard to issues of Biosafety in Biotechnology as stipulated under article 23. The information provided here is aimed at enhancing understanding of the role played by KEPHIS and relating the same to what other Regulators and players do. It is envisaged that information provided here will benefit users and enable them make informed decisions.
FOCAL POINTS AND CONTACTS.
Biosafety Clearing House National Focal Point
Teleposta Towers, Kenyatta Avenue ,
P.O. Box 30623, Nairobi, Kenya.
Telephone: +254 20 318 249
Fax: +254 20 318 249
KEPHIS Biosafety Focal Point - Managing Director or General Manager, Inspection Operations
Kenya Plant Heath Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS)
P.O. Box 49592-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
Telephone: +254 20 3597201/2/3
Cellphone: 0722-516221| 0723-786779|0733-874274
Fax: +254 20 3536175
For information on other agencies and key players, the following links are useful :