Kenya ‘effectively’ lifts ban on genetically modified crops

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Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. openly / ˈoʊ pən li / (adv.) – directly, without hiding anything

    Lianne openly discussed her career plans with her parents.

  2. genetically modified / ʤəˈnɛtɪkli ˈmɑdəˌfaɪd / (adj.) – having the genetic structure of a plant or animal changed

    Some scientists believe that genetically modified crops can resolve food scarcity.

  3. authorize / ˈɔ θəˌraɪz / (v.) – to give permission to someone to do something

    Our company is authorized to distribute certain international skin care products.

  4. assert / əˈsɜrt / (v.) – to firmly say that something is true

    The labor leaders assert that the company needs to provide transportation allowance to employees.

  5. smallholder / ˈsmɑːlˌhoʊl.dɚ / (n.) – a person who owns a small land used for farming

    Mr. Brown provides loans for smallholders to start their own farming businesses.


Read the text below.

Kenya’s new president says the Cabinet has “effectively” lifted the country’s ban on openly cultivating genetically modified crops, reversing a decade-old decision as the East African country struggles with food security and a deadly drought.

“Open cultivation and importation of White (GMO) Maize is now authorized,” the presidency statement said, after years of concerns in Kenya and much of the African continent over the safety of genetically modified foods.

Earlier this year, the United States via its trade representative’s office criticized Kenya over its ban and the effects on U.S. agricultural exports to East Africa’s commercial hub. The ban also affected food aid, the office asserted in its annual report published in March.

U.S. Trade Rep. Katherine Tai led the U.S. delegation to Ruto’s inauguration and noted the new president’s support for shared “regional priorities” including enhancing two-way trade.

The Cabinet was meeting to discuss the drought that affects 23 of Kenya’s 47 counties and strategies for longer-term food security in the country of more than 50 million people. It discussed “significantly redefining agriculture in Kenya by adopting crops that are resistant to pests and disease” and considered reports on the “adoption of biotechnology,” the presidency said.

Agriculture is a main driver of Kenya’s economy, and about 70% of the rural workforce is in farming. Ruto, a former agriculture minister, seeks greater agricultural productivity.

Many African countries have bans on genetically modified agriculture, amid concerns about potentially harmful effects on smallholder farms, existing crops, the environment and people’s long-term health.

The presidency statement noted that Kenya’s Cabinet in 2019 made a limited step by approving the commercialization of a genetically enhanced variety of cotton to resist the African bollworm pest.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Lifting the ban reversed a decade-old decision as Kenya struggles with food security and a deadly drought. Do you think it was a good idea for the country to reverse an established rule to address the food crisis? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Why do you think some countries ban genetically modified agriculture? How do you think this can be changed? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Earlier this year, the United States via its trade representative’s office criticized Kenya over its ban. Should other nations have a say in the agricultural laws of other countries? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • How do you think countries can help each other in developing their agriculture (ex. share technology, send experts)? Discuss.