EALA committee assesses policies, laws on GMOs

ARUSHA: THE East African Legislative Assembly’s Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources embarked on a week-long mission for an assessment of policies and laws on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) within the East Africa Community’s partner states from February 4th to 9th this year.

Senior Public Relations Officer (SPRO) East Africa Legislative Assembly Arusha, Tanzania, Mr Nicodemus Bior, revealed this to the media recently.

According to information, the ongoing assessment will cover the Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Tanzania. He said the committee will consider undertaking a similar activity in DRC in the future.

“In order to cover the six Partner States within the time specified, the Committee is divided into three sub committees; each sub-committee will undertake the activity in two Partner States. The Chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources, Francoise Uwumukiza will lead a team of honourable members to the above-mentioned member states,” he said.

He added “This oversight activity is in line with The East Africa Treaty on Cooperation in Agriculture and Rural Development’s aims of achieving food security and rationalise agricultural production across EAC.” It was further explained that the EAC Agriculture and Rural Development Policy (EAC ARDP) aims at attaining food security through increased agricultural production, processing, storage and marketing.

Bior said that the Policy recognises the importance of eliminating hunger and ensuring sustainable food security within the region as a critical step to eradicating poverty and consequently a stimulus for rational agricultural development and realisation of the aspirations of the treaty establishing the EAC.

Due to the need of having food security in the EAC as provided by the treaty on one hand and the ongoing global debate with regard to GMOs on the other, he said the Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources (ATNR) of the East African Legislative Assembly decided to assess policies and laws of the EAC Partner States with regard to Genetically Modified Organisms with the aim of making an informed decision on the use of GMOs in the EAC region.

“The main objective of these activities is to assess policies and laws of Partner States on GMO and to make appropriate recommendations to the Council of Ministers on this matter.

The assessments will cover the general situation of food production in each partner state; the policy of the partner state on GMOs, the research undertaken in the partner states on GMOs, the laws and regulations of the partner states on GMOs,” he said and added “The need for GMOs food products in the partner states, the contribution of GMO food products in the partner states (if allowed), companies registered in the Partner State dealing with GMOs, How GMO food products are managed or controlled in the Partner States, Opinion on whether EAC Partner States should harmonise their policies and laws on GMO, and what EAC should do with regard to GMOs.” Bior said that the activities will be undertaken through engagement with the relevant stakeholders in the EAC Partner States and the committee will interact with relevant stakeholders through meetings to be held in the EAC Partner States.

He also said that the stakeholders from both public and private sector will be invited to engage with the committee and then the East Africa Legislative Assembly will discuss the findings and make appropriate recommendations to the Council with regards to GMOs and the action that should be taken by EAC and EAC Partner States.

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