The Kenya Biosafety Bill was signed into Law by the President on 12th February 2009. The law will ensure that biotechnology activities in Kenya are regulated in a safe and responsible manner. It will facilitate regulatory approvals of potentially beneficial products such as insect resistant varieties of cotton and maize (Bt) to proceed to the next level of commercialization. The enactment of the Bill into law is a major milestone because of the strategic importance of Kenya in Africa and the international community. The country now joins the category of other African countries that have enacted biosafety laws including, Burkina Faso, Egypt and South Africa.
ASARECA congratulates Kenya on this important milestone in agricultural development. ASARECA is the implementing arm for the COMESA Regional Approach to Biosafety and Biotechnology in Eastern and Southern Africa (RABESA). Kenya is one of the six pilot countries where policy research and analysis was conducted and national consultative meetings held in phase I of RABESA. The official opening and closing of the RABESA national workshop in Kenya was presided over by Permanent Secretaries in the Ministries of Agriculture and Trade. The involvement of these high-level policy makers contributed towards their understanding and appreciation of the COMESA agenda on regional harmonization of biosafety policies.
In August 2008, the Minister for Agriculture, Hon. William Ruto presided over the official opening of the RABESA regional workshop on the development of a communication strategy on biosafety. The Minister's speech was favourably received and ranked as the strongest speech in support of biotechnology and the Biosafety Bill in Kenya. He reiterated the need for Kenya to enact a biosafety law and promised to mobilize his colleagues to support it when presented in parliament. The Biosafety Bill was overwhelmingly passed with majority of the parliamentarians arguing that the country should embrace modern biotechnology as a step towards addressing food insecurity. The strongest arguments in favour of the Bill came from Cabinet Ministers. The Minister for Agriculture William Ruto said that "The benefits arising out of the Bill are enormous. It gives this country a comprehensive and coordinated manner in which to tap benefits from research and enhance self sufficiency in food production". The RABESA team that includes the International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotech Applications (ISAAA) and the Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS) have been working closely with other stakeholders in Kenya to facilitate passage of the Biosafety Bill.