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20 July, 2011

Kenya Not ready For GM food...but money talks

The Government decision to allow importation of Genetically modified food (GM)is flawed and sets a dangerous precedent that might hurt Kenya in the long run.

The decision by the cabinet committee might have been advised by the current severe drought and the rising food prices that need immediate intervention before the situation turn catastrophic.But,can GM food really be the solution,given that the government has not exhausted other avenues?

The importation of GM maize is shrouded in controversy,it is quite telling that the minister for health was against the importation, but powerful forces seems to have swayed the minister to give-in to the importation pressure.

Those against the importation site health implications and absence of astringent bio-safety law as well as establishment of a competent and efficient regulatory body that can check any unauthorized importation of GM food or seeds.The government has turned a deaf ear to the concerns raised by the general public as well as other stakeholders who interestingly include the millers.

Its interesting to note that the same government failed to provide adequate seedling during the planting season and later there was a lot of out cry from local farmers when the same government failed to buy maize at prices that at-least covered farmers overheads.

so why would the government overlook public health,economic and political implications to import this food?

Monsanto is a Fortune 500 company and the world largest producer of genetically modified Products (GMOs), its owned by the largest funds and institutional investors in the world it is also closely associated with Bill & Belida Gates foundation as well as the Rockefeller foundation, This means it is well capitalized to fund a marketing campaign across the globe in search of market for their product which include:-

*Agricultural and vegetable seeds
*Plant biotechnology traits
*Crop protection chemicals

Monsanto is known for its aggressive defense for its patents.In the past, the company sued farmers for growing crops that cross-pollinated with Monsanto crops and became contaminated with the company's patented genetic codes.The company usually demands seasonal royalties from farmers who use their seeds.

The government is definitely under pressure from western donors, which include USAID,UK and several Foundations that Fund Activities worth Billion of dollars in Kenya, to allow Importation of GM food without passing stringent bio-safety laws to safeguard the long-term health of the Kenyan people.This is apparent when you look at how the government agreed to the importation without first conducting an impact assessment survey on something that local researchers have not given a clear bill of health.

There are reports that In india farmers are worse off after they started using engineered seeds with claims of some even committing suicide.Dr. Vandana Shiva, director of Navdanya, a research foundation based in New Delhi, India, has long been an opponent of GM foods.Here is what she says in a VOA interview.

GMOs definitely don’t overcome grain shortages. The technology doesn’t allow an increase in yield. So far, all it’s done is introduce two kinds of toxic genes into plants. One, herbicide resistance, which is failing to control weeds in the U.S…and Bt toxin gene, which is also not able to control pests. We have an emergence of resistance in the bollworm in India.

There are safety issues. The U.S. has never ever done serious trials independent of the company’s. Unfortunately, in 1992 the United States introduced the principle of ‘substantial equivalence,’ which said treat a genetically modified food as if it is a normal food. And therefore, it is a ‘don’t see, don’t look and assume safety’ policy.

Organs are getting affected. Immunity is getting affected.

The only way to deal with drought is through organic farming because drought means scarcity of water. That means you must have more moisture available in your soil to be able to produce food. The only way you can increase soil moisture is through increasing organic matter. Our research in India shows that we can have as much as a 25 percent increase in organic matter by recycling plant residues, organic manure and doing composting.

Our work in India shows that we can double food production in India if we adopt ecological methods. The United Nations, based on African studies…put out a report showing that ecological methods are…doubling production in Africa. That data cannot be ignored anymore. Kenya can feed itself. Africa can feed itself. The world can feed itself through organic matter

The warning signs of embracing GMO is now apparent in US where the cost of organic food is relatively high than GMOs substitutes.This, in essence, means organic food has now become a luxury with the entire population solely dependent on genetically engineered food whose long term health effect has never been conclusively done.

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