Raila Odinga has asked the government to reverse its order of importing 10 million bags of GMO maize from overseas without involving members of the public.
Below is the full statement from the Azimio leader:
”After hurriedly lifting the ban on GMO foods, the UDA administration has now authorized the duty-free importation of 10 million bags of genetically modified maize for at least six months.
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.
We consider the decision to lift ban on GMO foods and their importation a betrayal to our country. On this, the Ruto administration is not working for Kenya.
He is being is puppet, working for the 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.
We call upon the UDA regime to immediately reverse this decision on GMO foods until Kenyans have a robust debate on the matter.
The science on GMO foods and farming is at best extremely controversial, and at worst incomplete.
There is no scientific study thus far that has unequivocally cleared GMOs as fit for human consumption and the environment. Studies that have come close to giving GMOs a clean bill of health are generally those sponsored by the biotechnology companies themselves or their associates.
We challenge the government to share with Kenyans the scientific study it is relying on to declare GMO maize as fit for our consumption and our environment.
GMOs can cause harm to human and animal life and to the entire national ecosystems. They can dramatically reduce or eliminate plant diversity. It is an established fact that once GMOs are introduced, it is virtually impossible to stop their transfer where natural crops are grown because of wind and insect pollination.
In other words, GMOs can completely wipe out native and natural crops leaving Kenyans dependent on seeds and foods produced by GMO multinationals.
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.
We note that in the most democratically and scientifically advanced countries, the question of GMOs remains one of great public concern and controversy, if not outright rejection. Currently, many countries in the European Union have banned GMOs. These include France, Germany, Austria, Greece, Hungary, The Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Poland, Denmark, Malta, Slovenia, Italy, and Croatia.
In Africa, Algeria, and Madagascar have banned GMOs. In Asia, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, Bhutan, and Saudi Arabia have disallowed GMOs. In the Americas, Belize, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela have all banned GMOs. What does the UDA regime know that these leading countries on the global stage that have banned GMOs do not know? What is this regime’s interest in GMOs?
In the present circumstances, we call upon our two houses of Parliament to stand up for the people. Parliament must push for motions to comprehensively and fully debate what the country should do with GMOs. 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.
We note with alarm the callousness with which the UDA regime in the person of CS Moses Kuria announced the pending importation of GMO maize. With utter contempt for the Kenya people, Kuria publicly said that since there are a thousand ways for Kenyans to die, the safety of GMO foods should not worry us because we are dying anyway.
As a party, we believe the matter of GMO foods in our country is too serious to be reduced to a cruel and juvenile joke. We call upon Mr. Kuria and the UDA regime to apologize to the Kenyan people. Officials who lack scientific literacy on such serious matters must never use their office to demean the Kenyan people as though we are a helpless, enslaved lot.
As a nation, we have institutions that have long been dedicated to the cause of agricultural production in the service of our people, our independence, and dignity as human beings. These include the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), which over the years has demonstrated the proven ability to develop crops that can adapt to adverse weather and climate change.
Another was Egerton University, once a versatile agricultural training and research institution that pioneered inventions in food production to feed our people. Egerton is now on its deathbed just when the country needs it most. The University of Nairobi’s College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences has in the past demonstrated its ability to develop new seed varieties and pioneer agricultural techniques towards food security.
The Kenya Seed Company has shown its capacity to develop high yielding drought resistant seeds. The sad fact is that all these Kenyan institutions are struggling. They are underfunded and often mismanaged. Why are we so quick to give money to foreign biotechnology companies when our own institutions that have demonstrated capacity to develop safe and trusted foods are struggling?
At 60, Kenya is too old to beg for food or accept unsafe imports from those with ulterior motives. Our institutions and farmers need resources and political goodwill to come through for the nation. Under the prevailing erratic weather patterns, the wise and patriotic thing to do is to invest in the capacity of our own institutions to undertake the production of crops that can withstand climate change.
The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, with no better scientific capacity than more advanced institutions that continue to cast doubt on GMOs, has unfortunately lauded the government decision to flood the country with GMO maize. We had expected the government to put more money into this institution develop responses to new threats from pests such as fall army worms, maize stock borer, and diseases such as maize lethal necrosis for a home-grown lasting solutions to our food problems.
We do not believe that Kenya will solve its problems by taking money abroad or seeking food aid that comes with strings attached and with grim consequences for our farmers and general population. Allowing GMO in response to drought amounts to sabotaging own institutions and selling the country to rich nations and established biotechnology corporations at the expense of our own.
This move abandons our farmers, seeds, soils, and ecosystems to the benefit foreigners and their companies. It is a betrayal of our country and our people.
The UDA regime will subject Kenyans to unproven and dangerous foods in an attempt to please international interests that do not care about our safety.
We ask Kenyans to oppose this move and to totally reject any GMO foods should they ever enter the Kenyan market. Our constitution is clear on the sovereignty of the people on matters both small and large. On grave matters such as life-altering GMO foods and technology, the people’s voice must be heard and respected. We are sure the people and their chosen leaders will overwhelmingly reject GMOs once their views are heard.”