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Plan to lift ban on GM foods ignites more resistance in Kenya

By Fredrick Obura | January 25th 2016

Anne Maina National CoordinatorKenya Biodiversity Coalition (KBioC) standing second from right and other members of the coalition at apast function (PHOTO: Courtesy)

NAIROBI, KENYA: Organisations are calling on the government to be impartial when debating on whether or not to allow use of technology in food production.

Anne Maina National Coordinator Kenya Biodiversity Coalition (KBioC) says State has not been fair to anti-GMO crusaders with latest remarks from Deputy President William Ruto calling for lifting of ban on GM foods.

“We want a government that listens to both sides in the GMO debate, many Kenyans have spoken against the use of this technology in food production and they should also be listened to,” she said.

“We strongly reject claims by GM seed developers that there is a “scientific consensus” on GMO safety, other issues around seed monopoly also needs to be addressed,” she noted.

In August last year, Deputy President William Ruto announced plans by the government to lift the ban on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to improve food security.

The ban was imposed in 2012 by then health minister Beth Mugo citing safety issues. She called on all government regulators and agencies involved in overseeing the importation of food products to with immediate effect comply with the directive and beef up security at the port and along border points to prevent any entry of the GMOs into the local market.

In an interview with Standard, Anne Maina disclosed that there are several issues around safety, control of seeds and chemicals which needs to be addressed before the government lifts the ban.

She dismissed claims that GMO was the answer to acute food shortage in the country saying conventional farming is capable of feeding Kenya if funded to the maximum.

“Conventional farming has been feeding Kenya ever since, we need to re look at ways of sustaining the method through irrigation and promoting modern farming machines such as tractors to farmers to increase production” she said.

Kenya joins several African countries that have also refused GM food, even in the form of aid sent from the UN World Food Programme.

In a movement with the sentiment, “Better dead than GM fed,” some of the countries of South Africa with the worst food crises (including Zambia) still do not want to feed its citizens genetically modified organisms due to fear that it would make the poor even more unstable through contamination of non-GM crops.

Others are concerned about eating food with questionable ingredients that could harm their health.

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