Kenya farmers oppose GMO

December 22, 2008

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 22 – The Kenya Small Scale Farmers forum is warning that Kenya’s export industry would be drastically affected should Genetically Modified Foods be introduced into the market.

Forum Chairman Moses Shaha pointed out on Monday that Kenya’s export destinations were slowly phasing out GMOs and so introducing them in Kenya now would not make sense.

He urged various stakeholders to consider the long-term effects of GMOs.

“Europe is moving away from GMOs. They want clean food, natural food and organic food,” Mr Shaha stated.

He further expressed fear of Kenya losing out on foreign exchange should the export market be diminished.

“And if farmers move away from that, that market is going to be lost and that is very fearful,” he ruefully stated, adding: “Everything is pointing towards business in agriculture. Not every farmer can do that. That is not possible.”

Mr Shaha also said that the commercialisation of GMO produce would have a diminishing impact on subsistence farming.

“Most farmers are on a subsistence baseline and we want to grow out of this. We feel that this is going to impact negatively on the farmers out there.”

He spoke during a demonstration by small scale farmers in the city in a bid to compel President Mwai Kibaki not to assent to the Biosafety bill 2008.

Mr Shaha complained that the bill did not take into account the impact of genetically modified produce to both humans and the environment. He called for a taskforce having farmers’ representatives to be formed to debate on the contentious issues of the bill.

“We want to be included because we were not part of the drafting of the bill that is about to be assented to by the President,” he explained.

“We are appealing to the President to bring our decisions on board so that we can share what we feel is right,” he further stressed.

He pointed out that such involvement by farmers would yield positive results.

“We want to get the response from the authorities. If they respond, well and good, we will tell them what we want to be included in it so that we may go the best route, not to endanger the farmers,” he stated.

“Today those authorities are there tomorrow they will not be there. They will be joining us out here and if they will crying out we shall be crying with them, but we’ll tell them that they are responsible for this,” he said.

Mr Shaha also outlined other negative implications should the president sign the bill into law.

He observed that if enacted in its current state, the bill would apply to only a small scope of all activities related to modern bio-technology, which are of equal biosafety concern.

He also alluded to the fact that the Bio-safety bill in its current state would face serious challenges and difficulties in its implementation, and expressed concern that it was in conflict with the Environmental Management and Coordination Act 1999.

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