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Drawn out law-making gave Kenya room to breathe

Law-making is a lengthy, tedious affair. The Kenyan process in creating biosafety laws may seem to have taken a long time, but there are some positive attributes to this. (see Will Kenya's Biosafety Bill of 2005 ever become law?)

The time has been well spent in educating the public on what biosafety is.

Different organisations, at risk of territorial wars, have been able to work together to define their roles, and have found a neutral ground on which to coordinate these roles.

Scientists, especially those involved with issues of plant health, pests and disease, have been able to attend training courses on risk assessment, and have improved documents important in implementing the biosafety bill.

The Kenyan National Biosafety Committee has been able to thoroughly familiarise itself with necessary decision-making processes.

Kenya has benefited from the Biosciences East and Central Africa initiative — an African centre of excellence in Kenya, focusing on the biological sciences.

Research has been ongoing, with the National Biosafety Committee approving various laboratory experiments and field trials. Kenya has also been able to set up a level two, state-of-the-art greenhouse facility.

All in all, by the time the bill is enacted, most people will not be caught flat-footed, but rather will be prepared to move to whatever the next level is – namely commercialisation.

In law-making, factors beyond the control of policymakers may come into play. There are political factors that should also be considered.

These situations are not necessarily unique to Kenya. However, it is the hope of all Kenyans, especially those involved in this process, that the biosafety laws will no longer be a draft, but will instead be law, at least before the end of the year.