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Moses Kuria explains controversial GMO remarks

Trade CS Moses Kuria addressing the 10th Annual SME Conference and Expo Strathmore University on November 17, 2022. [Samson wire, Standard]

Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria says he was speaking to a specific target audience when he made controversial remarks on why the government lifted the ban on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

Last week, the Cabinet Secretary came under heavy criticism from Kenyans when he said, “By just being in this country, you are a candidate for death. And because there are so many things competing to kill you, there is nothing wrong with adding GMOs to that list.”

 Speaking on Inooro TV during an interview on Sunday, November 27, Kuria said he made the remarks while speaking to bright University students who understood context.

“I was speaking to bright students who understood my remarks and that’s why you can hear them laughing [from the video],” he said.

 The cabinet secretary has also come under heavy criticism for announcing that the government will open a six-month window for duty-free importation of ten million bags of GMO maize.

Kuria’s critiques argue that the Kenyan maize farmers are currently in the harvest season, and that the government’s plan to allow importation of GMO maize, if implemented, would disenfranchise the local farmers.

But the CS argues that the government is trying to cushion Kenyans from food insecurity in future by importing the maize.

He maintains that the government will not wait for local farmers to finish selling their produce so they can import the maize.

This, he says, is one of the measures the government is taking to alleviate starvation in the country.

 “The government has to organize itself in case of poor distribution of rainfall in the months of March, April and May. Can this country afford a month without maize? Without flour? We cannot allow people to go hungry and so we have to plan,” said Kuria.

 Additionally, he argues that the imported maize would retail higher given its cost of production and that farmers would not incur losses.

 “How can maize from Argentina retail higher than the maize in Kenya? How would it be possible given the cost of production and transport?” Kuria posed.