Decision to allow GMOs a major goof

July 16, 2011 9:46 am
Mathira MP Ephraim Maina/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 16 – Mathira Member of Parliament Ephraim Maina has criticised the government for approving the importation of Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs) saying proper research should have been conducted first.

Speaking to journalists in Nairobi on Friday, Mr Maina argued that the government should have addressed the health concerns raised on GMOs by various institutions before allowing them into the country.

The cabinet on Thursday authorised millers to import genetically modified maize for production into flour to curb the food crisis although Public Health minister Beth Mugo had earlier denied that the goods had been cleared for importation.

“One arm of government says this and then the other says something else. We have to go by the expert ministry which has already condemned this maize and the minister has told me that the maize has not been cleared so what’s happening?” he posed.

Mr Maina also said that Kenya was better off importing maize from neighbouring countries rather than importing the GMOs. He further vowed to raise the matter in Parliament next week when the House reconvenes.

Although the Cabinet approved the importation of the products, it placed tight control measures on the imports. The maize should only be used for the production of flour and shall not be used as seeds for farming. In addition, all millers must clearly label flour from the genetically modified maize.

“We have maize in countries such as Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi and we should have imported their maize as we wait for our harvests. The GMOs should not be allowed into our country,” he maintained.

He has also reiterated his position on the amended Price Control Bill saying he would re-introduce in to Parliament next week.

The Mathira MP and Chairman of the Central Kenya Parliamentary group first tabled his Bill in July 2009 before MPs adopted it in 2010. President Mwai Kibaki however declined to sign it into law citing concerns that had been raised by various economists.

Some business analysts argue that the Bill will, in the long term, make markets uncompetitive. It proposes to have a fixed price on fast moving food products as well as fuel products.

Mr Maina explained that the amended Bill had addressed concerns that were raised by the President adding that it had been synchronised with the international standards.

“Some of the amendments were in regard to harmonising it with international practices that Kenya is party to. But let us wait until the Bill comes back to the floor of the House,” he said.

He also maintained that the Bill would cushion underprivileged Kenyans from the rising costs of living once it was effected. He added that Vision 2030 would remain a mirage for Kenya if the government failed to look into ways of softening the financial burden on its citizens.

“As far as I’m concerned Vision 2030 has a lot to do with the cost of living. Kenyans should be able to afford good education, good healthcare and good food for their children; that’s what Vision 2030 should be about,” he said.

“It has nothing to do with great airports and great highways for Mercedes and other cars driven by a small class of people,” he quipped.


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