Written by Henry Neondo
Kenya’s National Biosafety Authority has Monday organised a four-day first national biosafety conference and training workshop in Nairobi, Kenya. The authority hopes to train registered staff to certify trading in Genetically Modified products.
Speaking to Africa Science News in Nairobi Monday, Dr Willy Kiprotich Tonui, the Chief Executive Officer, NBA said the trainees will undergo through courses in introduction to biotechnology and biosafety regulatory framework in Kenya, introduction to emergency responses and occupational health and safety, introduction to biosafety levels and bio-containment, laboratory design and biosafety cabinets , risk assessment concepts and methodologies and infectious substance shipping and transportation.
Dr Tonui said staff from biosafety professionals, researchers, laboratory technicians, engineers have come out for the training.
They will offer the range of services the NBA will need once the country begins to trade in GMO products.
He said NBA wants to develop staff with some level of certifying professionals and is currently developing curricular to help meet this. It is working with the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) to develop a bio-risk standards that to certify professionals.
Tonui said the trainees will play their role in administration controls, equipment and facilities, Standard Operating Processes that support the process use of GMOs and the practices that surround use of GMO.
These, said Dr Tonui will go along way to meet the need of the NBA to meet its mandate of protect human, wildlife and the environment by ensuring safety of GMOs.
NBA came through an Act of Parliament which calls for the formation of NBA through appointment of the Board which began operationalising in 2010.
The Board has gone ahead to set up a biosafety clearing house, appointed key personnel and put in some regulations for services like contained use, environment release, the import and export regulations and the latest on labelling regulations which now operationalises the Act pending the completion of the transportation regulations.
Dr Touni said with the laws in place, the NBA will now begin to reach out to the citizens to understand what the Authority is doing.
So far, the NBA has not approved any GMO product save milled products by the World Food Programme for use for humanitarian purposes and those for use in research. It has however not approved any for commercialisation.
He said it takes between 90 and 150 days to approve a product from an applicant according to the law after separate evaluation by the Kenya Plant Health Inspection Service, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Industrial Patenting Institute and the Kenya Bureau of Standards.
According to Kenyan law, any product with above 1 % of the GMO needs labeling.
Dr Tonui said the NBA is working to set up offices at the exit points in Busia, Mombasa and Namaga and hopes it will be setting up laboratories.