Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has accused President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza administration of betraying the people of Kenya by their decision to lift ban on GMOs. The Azimio One Kenya Coalition leader has also taken issue with the Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria over his recent statement regarding GMOs in Kenya and accused him of demeaning the Kenyan people.
“After hurriedly lifting the ban on GMO foods, the UDA administration has now authorized the duty-free importation of 10 million bags of genetically modified maize for at least six months.” said Raila in his statement released on 20th November 2022.
“We in Azimio La Umoja want to state categorically that this decision – which has been made without deliberation or public participation – will have far reaching and catastrophic implications for Kenya’s agriculture, the health of the Kenyan people and our environment.” On this issue Raila says the Ruto administration is not working for Kenya and is being a puppet, working for foreign nations and their multinationals against the interest of Kenyans.
“Ruto is not working to promote Kenyan research work in Kenyan universities, colleges and institutions. He is working to promote foreign biotechnology institutions abroad” read the statement.
“We call upon the UDA regime to immediately reverse this decision on GMO foods until Kenyans have a robust debate on the matter. The science on GMO foods and farming is at best extremely controversial, and at worst incomplete.” He said.
He added that there is no scientific study thus far that has unequivocally cleared GMOs as fit for human consumption and the environment and said studies that have come close to giving GMOs a clean bill of health are generally those sponsored by the biotechnology companies themselves or their associates.
“We challenge the government to share with Kenyans the scientific study it is relying on to declare GMO maize as fit for our consumption and our environment. GMOs can cause harm to human and animal life and to the entire national ecosystems. They can dramatically reduce or eliminate plant diversity.” he said and added that once GMOs are introduced, it is virtually impossible to stop their transfer where natural crops are grown because of wind and insect pollination.
Raila said GMOs can completely wipe out native and natural crops leaving Kenyans dependent on seeds and foods produced by GMO multinationals and that these foods pose a direct threat to Kenyans’ health, farmers, soils, institutions and seeds and added that GMOs are a new form of colonialism that will leave Kenyans permanently at the mercy of malign foreign nations and greedy corporations.
“We note that in the most democratically and scientifically advanced countries, the question of GMOs remains one of great public concern and controversy, if not outright rejection. Currently, many countries in the European Union have banned GMOs. These include France, Germany, Austria, Greece, Hungary, The Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Poland, Denmark, Malta, Slovenia, Italy, and Croatia.” He said and added that in Africa, Algeria, and Madagascar have banned GMOs while in Asia and the Americas, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, Bhutan, Saudi Arabia, Belize, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela have all banned GMOs.
“What does the UDA regime know that these leading countries on the global stage that have banned GMOs do not know? What is this regime’s interest in GMOs?” posed the ODM leader.
“In the present circumstances, we call upon our two houses of Parliament to stand up for the people. Parliament must push for motions to comprehensively and fully debate what the country should do with GMOs. We appeal to the people’s representatives to lead this discussion with immediate effect and invite Kenyans from all walks of life to submit their views. This matter of grave national importance cannot be decided in secrecy and opacity by the Cabinet without the input of the people.” he said.
“We note with alarm the callousness with which the UDA regime in the person of CS Moses Kuria announced the pending importation of GMO maize. With utter contempt for the Kenya people, Kuria publicly said that since there are a thousand ways for Kenyans to die, the safety of GMO foods should not worry us because we are dying anyway.” he lamented.
He said that as Azimio party, they believe the matter of GMO foods in our country is too serious to be reduced to a cruel and juvenile joke. “We call upon Mr. Kuria and the UDA regime to apologize to the Kenyan people. Officials who lack scientific literacy on such serious matters must never use their office to demean the Kenyan people as though we are a helpless, enslaved lot.” he said
Raila said Kenya has institutions that have long been dedicated to the cause of agricultural production in the service of the Kenyan people, our independence, and dignity as human beings such as the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), which over the years has demonstrated the proven ability to develop crops that can adapt to adverse weather and climate change.
He also singled out Egerton University, once a versatile agricultural training and research institution that pioneered inventions in food production to feed the Kenyan people but said Egerton is now on its deathbed just when the country needs it most. He also said the University of Nairobi’s College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences has in the past demonstrated its ability to develop new seed varieties and pioneer agricultural techniques towards food security.