GMO debate outdated, argues food security lobbyist

April 21, 2015 2:29 pm
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Green Peace Agriculture Campaigner Glen Tyler says the question of whether genetically modified foods can cause cancer or not is no longer pertinent as the country can attain food security through ecological farming/CFM
Green Peace Agriculture Campaigner Glen Tyler says the question of whether genetically modified foods can cause cancer or not is no longer pertinent as the country can attain food security through ecological farming/CFM
NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 21 – Agricultural campaign organisation Green Peace Africa has called on the government to move away from the Genetically Modified Foods debate and invest in ecological farming techniques.

Green Peace Agriculture Campaigner Glen Tyler says the question of whether genetically modified foods can cause cancer or not is no longer pertinent as the country can attain food security through ecological farming.

“While they tout things like drought tolerant seeds, there are a lot of seeds that have already been developed without genetic engineering that are already climate resilient. We’re looking at a technology of engineering that is already two decades old and there are much newer technologies like micro-assisted selection,” he told Capital FM Business.

READ: Lawmakers take Macharia to task over GMO ban

Ecological farming, Green Peace explains, in its brochure, is also known as agroecology and works to increase yields and farmers’ incomes using microbiology, soil science and epigenetics.

Simply put, Tyler explained, ecological farming extols the virtues of growing a diverse array of crops, the use of locally available resources such as fertiliser trees and insects, not agrochemicals, to fight off infestation.

“And no, we’re not going back to traditional farming. There are a lot of modern technologies that ecological farming incorporates. But yes, it revitalises the indigenous knowledge that farmers have and in lots of cases are actually losing. So our research bodies are actually adding to this body of knowledge,” Tyler explained.

One such research body, Green Peace, is working with is ICIPE with whom they will launch a report on the economic benefits of ecological farming on Wednesday.

“In Kenya we found that farmers are benefitting three times more than farmers using chemical inputs and in Malawi one and a half times more,” Tyler referenced.

Benefits that extend to the soil, water and climate, Tyler explained: “We’ve seen around the world particularly in China and the US where there’s huge over use of nitrogen fertilisers a lot of eutrophication, that means die off happening in water bodies.”

READ: Kenya signs pact for 15,000MT fertiliser plant

Green Peace Africa has therefore advised the government to shift its focus to ecological farming and away from what it says is costly – monetarily and climatically – chemical intensive agriculture so the small scale farmer can enjoy larger margins of profit.

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