Importation of genetically modified food to stabilise food prices in Kenya has revived an old debate on safety of the products, with lobbyists pitted against each other.

Anne Maina of the African Bio-diversity Network says the introduction of patented seeds and related chemicals into Kenya’s farming systems threatens the country’s agricultural practices, its livelihoods, the environment, “and undermines our seed sovereignty”.

The Kenyan House (Parliamentary) Committee on Agriculture has also warned that opening up the country to genetically modified products would endanger lives.

The Committee chairman John Mututho said last week that the country lacked technical capacity to assess the quantity and type of genes in imported products, and had a long way to go before fully embracing use of GM products while ensuring the health of its citizens.

“We do not have a functional body with equipment to test the products before releasing them to consumers,” says Mututho, whose committee has been involved in investigations on importation of GMO maize into the country, mainly from South Africa.

The hazards

Some of the health hazards associated with the products include infertility and impairment in new-borns.

“We are not ready even if we are anxious to import (GMOs) legally within the next couple of years because we do not meet the conditions and specific requirements as required by the international guidelines,” he said.

The MP said the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service only had equipment to detect the presence of GM in products and not the type and quantity of genes the products carried.

Ms Maina is of the same view. She says the push for the introduction of GMO products in Kenya has indeed not come from farmers, but companies with vested interests and which are desperate for new markets in Africa “after their wholesale rejection in Europe”.

“Africa is not the place for GMOs,” she says.

Via: Africa Review