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GMO Imports authorisation: Raila calls Ruto a puppet of the West

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga. [File, Standard]

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga has criticised the government for authorising the importation of Genetically Modified maize without public participation calling the Ruto administration a puppet of the West.

This comes a day after Trade and Investments CS Moses Kuria lifted the ban on GMOs, saying Kenyans faced other issues that would potentially cause death.

Pronouncing himself on the matter Sunday afternoon Raila demanded that government provides the research relied on before the authorisation.

“We in Azimio La Umoja want to state categorically that this decision – which has been made without deliberation or public participation – will have far-reaching and catastrophic implications for Kenya’s agriculture, the health of the Kenyan people, and our environment,” Odinga’s statement reads in part.

“We consider the decision to lift the ban on GMO foods and their importation a betrayal to our country. On this, the Ruto administration is not working for Kenya,”

The five-time presidential hopeful has also accused the president of being a ‘puppet of the West, accusing him of promoting foreign biotechnology.

“He is being a puppet, working for foreign nations and their multinationals against our interest as a nation. Ruto is not working to promote Kenyan research work in Kenyan universities, colleges, and institutions. He is working to promote foreign biotechnology institutions abroad,” he added.

In addition, the veteran politician wants the state to revoke the GMO decision until Kenyans have discussed the topic.

“These foods pose a direct threat to our health, our farmers, soils, institutions, and seeds.  GMOs are a new form of colonialism that will leave us permanently at the mercy of malign foreign nations and greedy corporations. Simply put, GMOs are an existential threat to Kenya’s food systems, ecosystems, and its human and plant life,”

Odinga has also called on the bicameral parliament to debate and protect the people of Kenya.

“We appeal to the people’s representatives to lead this discussion with immediate effect and invite Kenyans from all walks of life to submit their views.  This matter of grave national importance cannot be decided in secrecy and opacity by the Cabinet without the input of the people,”

On Thursday last week, a storm erupted online following CS Kuria's remarks on why the government lifted the ban on GMOs despite the life-threatening risks genetically modified foods pose to humans.

 Kuria opined that Kenyans stare at death courtesy of a myriad of risks and there's nothing wrong with adding GMOs to the list of risks.

"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," Kuria said.

He spoke during a press conference at which he announced that the government will soon allow a six-month duty-free importation of 10 million bags of GMO and non-GMO maize for food security.