State loses appeal against suspension of GMO imports

Friday, May 26th, 2023 08:20 | By
GMO maize
Genetically engineered (GMO) maize, conceptual image. PHOTO/Internet.

The government yesterday suffered a setback when the Court of Appeal declined to overturn orders of the High Court suspending the importation of GMO crops.

Court of Appeal judges Mohammed Warsame, Abida Ali Aroni and John Mativo ruled that the appeal by the Attorney General will not be rendered nugatory if the order is not issued.

The High Court last year suspended the importation of GMO crops and food following petitions filed by lawyer Paul Mwangi and Kenyan Peasants League challenging the lifting of the ban by President William Ruto administration.

Status quo

The Court of Appeal, while declining to overturn the order, noted that the trial court’s order was to return to the status quo pertaining before the directive was issued by the government.

“We see nothing for the court to preserve and it cannot be said that the substratum of the appeal will be eroded. We therefore find that the second limp of the twin principles has not been satisfied,” ruled the judges.

The three judge-bench dismissed the AG’s argument that the public interest would be merited if the orders were overturned.

The State had argued that unless the orders are granted, the appeal will be rendered nugatory as the people of Kenya who are faced with hunger and starvation will be greatly prejudiced.

The Court of Appeal judges, however, ruled that the AG ought to have first established the arguability test and the nugatory aspect.

“The public interest test was not meant to stand alone or replace either of the two tests,” noted the judges.

The AG had argued that the adoption of biotechnology involving the use of GMOs will significantly contribute to addressing the challenges facing the country in terms of food security as it would lower the cost of raw material for the animal feed industry.

This was objected to on grounds that there was no public participation.

In their petition at the High Court, Lawyer Mwangi and Kenyan Peasants League are opposed to the importation, cultivation and consumption of GMOs on grounds that the decision to lift the ban was not procedural and it was unlawful.

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