Why the fuss about GMOs? Here is my two cents on the debate

The long-term sustainability and reliance on imported seed are policy questions that need serious addressing. [iStockphoto]

As both a farmer and a globalist, the hullaballoo over the resistance to biotechnology crops continues to baffle me. 

I once sat with a politician, who proceeded to educate me that Genetically Modified Crops (GMOs) would result in consequences so dire such as my unborn (his emphasis and ridicule on the fact that I was yet to have offspring) children growing with two heads.

He explained that, according to his researchers, GMO crops have effects dire enough to alter the genetic makeup of anyone who consumes them. "Like the Covid Moderna RNA vaccine?" I prodded. "Exactly!" he beamed pleased that his point had been articulated and received so poignantly! This would be laughable if the learned gentleman were not a key player in policy decisions in relation to the agriculture sector. 

Now herein lies the problem: the debate currently raging in the public domain is not based on scientific data but rather on fears and rumours.

GMOs have been a topic of discussion and controversy for many years, and this has recently been reignited with the decision by President William Ruto to allow the cultivation of GMO crops. Every butcher, barber and even reveller at local joints has become an expert on the issue.

"It is the end of Kenya!" Many of them claim. But nothing could be further from the truth. The use of GMOs in crops began in the 1990s with the aim of improving crop yields and resistance to pests and diseases.

Monsanto introduced the first BT cereal in 1996 with a soybean with qualities, making it naturally resistant to Glyphosate or "Roundup" as it is better known. Initially, there were concerns that GMOs could pose a threat to the environment and human health. However, research and studies have since been conducted, and these concerns have been addressed.

In fact, numerous scientific organisations, such as the World Health Organisation, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, and the American Medical Association have stated that GMOs are safe for human consumption. 

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