Kenya maize debate heats up in Parliament

May 13, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 13 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga was on Wednesday put to task to explain why genetically modified and ‘poisonous maize’ was imported to the country even after government agencies raised health issues with the shipment.

MPs used the PM’s time in Parliament to grill him on his role in the maize saga.

“The Prime Minister is confusing us by tabling too many papers in the House. We have listened to him and there was evidence of contradiction and the results he got,” he said.

Mr Odinga, however, assured that all the contaminated maize shipped into the port of Mombasa in November last year was still under lock and key.

He hinted to a possibility that some MPs were politicising the issue and using the situation for selfish motives.

“I plead with the members if they truly have the health of the people at heart let them not play politics. Let them not try to use this House to settle some other scores, which have nothing to do with the cargo,” he said.

He disputed claims by the Public Health Minister, Beth Mugo, that the 6,350-tonne consignment could not be traced, and that it could already be circulating in the market.

Mrs Mugo had earlier insisted that the maize was contaminated.

Mr Odinga confirmed that the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), the government chemist and a private company had given contradicting results.

“KEBS had three different results; one it found the maize was fit for human consumption, the other it was fit for animal consumption and the other that it was unfit for both,” said the PM.

He said due to the varying results, a meeting consisting of officials from different Ministries agreed to destroy the maize whatever the outcome of the results.

He further said the government would not loose any money as the consignment had been insured.

The Premier said the consignment will be destroyed in public to clear any doubts.

However Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo who had sought the explanation accused the PM of giving false information to the House and insisted the maize had already been released to the local shops.

Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende stopped the hot debate saying it had been discussed for a long time.


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