While the debate over genetically modified organisms has sometimes become absurd, there are important lessons to be learnt from the whole process.
Barely a year ago, terms such as biosafety, GMO or transgenics, used to describe these technologies, were a preserve of a small elite group of scientists and lobbyists.
However, today, these are to be heard in public meetings and demonstrations and in discussions among ordinary Kenyans.
Some of these exchanges may sometimes convey incorrect information but it is a good start in demystifying these sciences and getting a bigger section of the population involved in issues that involve their lives.
Kenya needs to strengthen its regulatory authorities in order to deal with this and other technologies on the way. But more important is the question as to whether we must remain recipients of science by-products and not their exporters.
In less than two decades, South Africa now is a major earner from biotechnology in the continent and is on the verge of taking a similar lead in an even newer science called nanotechnology.
Nanotechnology, the science of dealing with matter at the molecular level, is already the ‘next’ big thing and we must decide now whether we want to take a commanding lead or remain reluctant consumers.
Like biotechnology, the new science is already raising environmental and safety concerns, but fortunately, this time round, we are wiser and possibly will spend less time debating.