Blow to Government as Kenyan Court Extends Ban on GMO to October 2024

Efforts by the Kenyan Government to have the orders barring the importation, distribution & adoption of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) products in Kenya lifted failed after a Kenyan High Court extended the Ban up to October 2024 when the Court will issue a ruling on whether or not the Judgment by the Environment and Land Court (ELC), rendered on 12th October 2023, dismissing the case filed by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) had any bearing on the pending 4 consolidated petitions. This was during a session in which the parties challenging the adoption of GMOs in Kenya appeared before Justice Lawrence Mugambi on 30 May 2024 to argue their case on the legal bearing on the ruling of the matter to the pending consolidated petitions.

Lawyer, Kevin Oriri, representing the Kenyan Peasants League argued that the case at the environment court as filed by the law society of Kenya was as different from the pending cases as day is from light; that whereas the ELC case centered its focus specifically on the legality of the adoption of Bt Maize as regulated by the Biosafety Act, 2009, the cases pending speak predominantly to the constitutionality of the drastic Cabinet decision to lift the ban on GMOs, that had been placed back in 2012, without involving the stakeholders, the public and the consequential violations and/or threat to fundamental human rights that arise.

The other Petitioners, represented by lawyer Paul Mwangi, the council of Governors represented by lawyer Mr. Gakuru & Mr. Mukabane and supported by BIBA Kenya, an interested party represented by Ms. Emily Kinama were of similar view, in addition to clearly setting out the specific issues still due for determination. The Respondents, CS, Agriculture, represented by Lawyer Muthomi Thionkolu & the AG & National Biosafety Authority as represented by Lawyer Eric Gumbo argued that the Environment and Land Court Judgment disposed off all issues and asked the court to rule that the pending cases had been overtaken by events.

The KPL while welcoming the ruling extending the ban, but noted that the decision by Justice Mugambi to entertain arguments on whether or not the Judgment by the ELC on the adoption process of GMO Maize renders the pending consolidated Petitions before the High Court moot should have not been entertained in the first place since the same court had earlier pronounced itself on the matter. “We view this as an attempt by some invisible powerful actors to bring GMOs into Kenya illegally and unconstitutionally. We reiterate that the judgement by the ELC did not vacate interim orders by Lady Justice Mugure Thandi barring the importation and distribution of GMO organisms pending the determination of the case. Furthermore, Lady Justice Mugure Thandi who has since been transferred under unclear circumstances had earlier ruled that the maters were different” said Cidi Otieno, the National Coordinator, KPL, one of the petitioners. 

The statement by KPL also noted that the matter was significant because it touched on very critical issues affecting the Kenyan society; the right to quality and acceptable food, the right to health and not in the least, the economic & social rights of peasant farmers who produce over 80% of the food consumed locally in the country, and whether or not to hear the 4 cases on their merits will no doubt have significant and far-reaching ramifications on the aforementioned issues.

The Court will issue a ruling on whether or not it will proceed with the four cases on the 31st of October 2024; in the meantime, orders barring the importation, distribution & adoption of GMO products remain in place.

KPL Communication Office

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