Food security, consumer groups protest Kenya’s GMO decision

Nairobi, Kenya –

Food security, consumer rights and biodiversity groups are protesting Kenya’s reversal of a GM food ban, saying the public has not been consulted on a key issue for the economy. economy and safety of the East African country.

Kenya’s new President William Ruto announced earlier this week that the Cabinet has effectively lifted a decades-long public ban on the cultivation and importation of genetically modified crops. The decision came after pressure from the US government, which said the ban affected US agricultural exports and food aid.

In a joint statement on Thursday, groups including the Kenya-based Consumer Base Association, Road to Food, Greenpeace Africa and the Africa Biodiversity Network said the decision This sudden decision “fundamentally deprives Kenyans of their freedom to choose what they want to eat.” They called for an immediate reinstatement of the ban and the establishment of a “participatory process” to review food security issues.

Ruto took office last month promising a transparent government, the statement said. It also argues that the introduction of genetically modified organisms harms the growing organic export market and creates an unfair situation for Kenyan farmers, 80% of whom are farming with small scale.

Agriculture is the main driver of the Kenyan economy and about 70% of the rural workforce is engaged in agriculture. Ruto, a former agriculture minister, is looking for higher agricultural productivity.

“GMOs pose a risk to our native seeds and cultivars,” the statement said, adding that the National Biosafety Agency tasked with regulating GMOs lacked the capacity to carry out this expansion. . The Kenyan cabinet in 2019 took a limited step by approving the commercialization of a genetically engineered cotton to fight the African fruit borer.

Many African countries have banned GM agriculture, amid concerns about possible harmful effects on small-scale farms, existing crops, the environment and the long-term health of citizen.

Following Kenya’s decision, neighboring Tanzania’s Agriculture Minister told local newspaper The Citizen that “we will put in place additional measures to ensure that there are no seeds associated with GMOs.” brought into this country.”

A spokesman for the President of Kenya did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday’s statement.


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