Don't use starving Kenyans to legalise GMOs!
By Roseleen Nzioka
- 21st Jul 2011 00:00:00 GMT +0300
Julius Nyerere once described Kenya as a "man eat man society". If you were to (eerily) take this literally it would amount to cannibalism.According to the World English Dictionary cannibalism is defined as:- noun1. the act of eating human flesh or the flesh of one's own kind2. savage and inhuman crueltyIn the Kenyan case cannibalism here would refer to the second definition, "savage and inhuman cruelty".
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And that is what comes to mind when my ilk and I think about the unfolding saga about the government's decision to allow the importation of genetically modified maize.The government's position is that the importation of genetically modified maize is for the sole purpose of mitigating the looming famine ravaging many Kenyans across the country. It might seem unfortunate that anti-GMO lobbyists are against this move to import GMOs yet judging by the number of options that were given in a preliminary report by Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba and his team, it would seem the government opted for the last resort.The preliminary report that contains 21 emergency recommendations regarding options for securing food to alleviate the famine situation, was presented to the government on June 7 while the final report will be tabled in Parliament on August 11. The Budalangi MP was reported in the media to have said that his committee was yet to confirm whether the consignment of maize that arrived in the country was GMO or normal maize, and asked the government to consider importing non-GMO maize from Zambia and Malawi.The committee had recommended restrictions to allow the importation of six million bags only, but the government allowed businessmen to import without limits. As Kenyans we should also ask ourselves why only three other African countries have formally accepted GMOs namely; South Africa, Egypt and Bukina Faso. Why are other African and European countries reluctant to engrave it in their national policies for food sustainability? The jury is still out on the health effects of GMOs on human beings and for that reason alone, Kenya should have said no to GMOs for now.And surely the government should know that it is of little comfort to say that the modified maize would be consumed in flour form and not as seeds! Doesn't everything consumed in whatever form go into the stomach?It is therefore imperative that we, in Kenya, embrace appropriate technologies and policies to transform our agricultural systems to become more productive and profitable.While I talk about better food suffiency, don't be mistaken. I don't believe it's some moral ideal but rather that there are other practical options out there that don't involve GMOs.Is it not insane, that we import tonnes of maize and pay top dollars for it while our local farmers have to beg for fair prices from the government? The ineffiencies in that are obvious.Removing the red tape that blocks enterprising local farmers and empowering them to use appropriate technologies will do more for the economy than the irresponsible importation of foods that is driven by a deadly combination of extreme capitalism and unrestricted greed by powerful individuals.With the right interventions, we shall not need to resort to any genetically modified foods.
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GMOs Genetically modified foods