Posted by & filed under GMOs, Health & Disease, Village Development.

A press release from the African Biodiversity Network

We demand the recognition of organic agriculture and other agro-ecological farming practices in Kenya’s agriculture policies and practices.

The developers of GMOs have exerted great pressure to ensure that our recently enacted Biosafety Act of 2009 serves the interests of foreign agribusiness, rather than farmers and consumers. The introduction of patented seeds and related chemicals into our farming systems threatens our agricultural practices, our livelihoods, the environment, and undermines our seed sovereignty. We believe that we can feed our communities and this country with organic and agroecological farming practices that do not destroy, pollute and contaminate food, land and seeds. Our ability to feed Africa through agro-ecological practices is recognised and supported by UN reports [see also], the IAASTD report and many research findings. We call upon the government to support small scale farmers in having access to water and capacity building in agro-ecology and for this to be enshrined in our Kenyan policies.

There is a growing body of scientific evidence to show that GMOs can cause serious damage to health, environment, food production and livelihoods. For example, animal feeding trials have shown damage to liver, kidney and pancreas, effects on fertility and stomach bleeding. A most recent study carried out on pregnant women in Canada found genetically modified insecticidal proteins in their blood streams and in that of their foetus [see also]. The developers of GMOs have always claimed that this is impossible; they have stated that these proteins are broken down in the digestive process and will not be found in the body. This recent finding is sending shock waves around the medical and scientific community.

Some of the problematic environmental consequences of GMOs include the development of insect resistance to the pesticides engineered into crops as well as the emergence of new and secondary pests destroying farmers’ crops forcing them to buy and use highly toxic pesticides. Further, the development of herbicide tolerant weeds are choking farmer’s fields. These weeds can no longer be controlled by modern herbicides, forcing farmers to spray high doses of older more toxic chemicals in an effort to control them. This has disastrous consequences for environmental and human health.

We do not believe that top-down technological solutions will solve the many challenges that Kenyan farmers face. This one-size-fits all solution cannot attend to our varied needs. Instead, we call for collaboration between farmers, scientists and government to ensure that we produce healthy and plentiful food. This “solutions centred” approach and farmer-scientist cooperation has in the past resulted in such innovations like the Katumani breed of maize for drier areas of Kenya and an improvement in food production systems and increased yields in a sustainable way. Everything that genetic engineering is claimed to offer can readily be achieved through safer methods such as non-GM breeding, intercropping and creative innovation. Our public research institutions must shift their focus back to farmers needs rather than support the agenda of agribusiness, which is to colonise our food and seed chain. We believe that the patenting of seed is deeply unethical and dangerous; it undermines farmers’ rights to save seeds and will make us wholly dependent on corporations in the future.

Farmers of Kenya believe that hunger is not caused by under-production of food, but because people have no money to buy food [see also]. Thus it cannot be said that GMOs are the solution to poverty and hunger. Article 43 of the Kenya constitution affirms that every person has a right to be free from hunger and to have adequate food of acceptable quality (Not GMOs!).

We demand that the Kenyan government recognizes the importance of agroecological practices as the primary farming practice in the country by enacting concrete legislation on it and allocating an annual budget for capacity building of small farmers who want to practice agroecological practices.

Further, we demand that the government, through a concrete policy statement, protects the integrity of agroecological practices and farmer saved seed varieties by banning the introduction of GMOs into Kenya.

Contact:

Anne Maina
Advocacy Coordinator
African Biodiversity Network (ABN)
Tel: +254 722 386 263
Email: anne (at) africanbiodiversity.org

Gacheke Gachihi
Social Justice Activist
Bunge La Mwananchi Social Movement
Tel: +254 720 318 049
Email: ggacheke (at) gmail.com

Cidi Otieno
Convener,
UNGA Revolution
Tel: +254 721 609 699
Email: ungarevolution (at) gmail.com

3 Responses to “Kenyans Demand a Stop to GMO Food Imports”

  1. bagginz

    Good work!

    Nice to see this response to the greedy corporate GMO monopolizing machine

    Reply
  2. Bernie Edwards

    Good on ya, African Biodiversity Network. The whole world has a battle on its hands to ban GMOs and it is good to see that some groups are organizing to achieve that.

    I have written to the Australian government on a number of occasions calling for a ban in this country but it seems that it would require legislation enacted to achieve this because the government at both state and federal levels think GMOs are both good and necessary and have passed legislation permitting their commercial use in agriculture in this country.

    Here is a sample paragraph from written replies I have received from the Research and Development and Food Security Branch of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry back in April 2011:

    ‘The Australian Government recognises that there continues to be some level of concern in the community on a range of issues relating to GM crops and food and that there needs to be well informed public debate on these issues. The government considers that GM technology can play an important part in helping to deal with emerging challenges, including those arising from climate change, pressure on global food supplies and the management of pests and diseases. This technology can also benefit the environment, through reduced chemical use, and consumers, through development of products with greater health benefits.’

    That sounds to me like they either don’t have a clue what they are talking about or dealing with, or, they are deliberately trying to cover up the real dangers around the use of GMOs and the chemicals and practices necessary to produce them, together with the known associated harmful effects in terms of ecological degradation and public health risks, in doing so. One wonders, just who is pulling their strings?

    Of course, this was prior to the publication of the recent report on Roundup and Birth Defects: http://www.scribd.com/doc/57277946/RoundupandBirthDefectsv5

    I sent that report link to the Australian Prime Minister on 1 June with a renewed call for a ban on GMOs but have not so far received a reply.

    Reply
  3. michel Fanton

    Farmers are used to save their seeds. In particular women have to produce their own seeds years after years and swap with other women when need be, because most often there is nothing on the seed market that come close to what the diversity of species and varieties for their family needs. Women’s garden, not just in Africa but in Asia also are a very good example of the kind of cooperation in keeping huge diversity of seed stocks going.

    It is also good to see manfolks in Africa (and India) keeping growing and saving local varieties of millets and other lesser-known grains as these are not liable to be cross pollinated by GMOs (as in Maize.)

    Growing diversity wins and pays at the end of the day.

    We can all learn from Africa.

    Reply

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