Food Crisis as Kenya Opens its Doors to GMOs

03 Nov 2011

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The horn of Africa is undergoing the most severe food crisis over the last 60 years. To address the growing number of people suffering from hunger, Kenya has decided to officially authorize the importation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), becoming the fourth African country to open its doors to GM crops, together with South Africa, Egypt and Burkina Faso.

The new regulations were strongly opposed by environmentalist associations, a number of parliament delegates and local food producers, who are worried that the introduction of GM seeds will cause contamination of locally grown crops.

“When millions of people seem condemned to death by starvation, the rich local and international well-connected cartels (including industrial multinationals) are even hungrier”, says John Kariuki, vice-president of Slow Food International, working on the ground in his home country of Kenya. “With their excessive influence over many aspects of global economic, political and social life, they have lured some African governments into allowing the importation of GMOs.”

“The move is also allowing imported foodstuffs at the expense of locally produced alternatives,” continued Kariuki. “In many African countries what has been selected, saved, shared and withstood the test of time though surviving harsh climatic conditions is now no longer regarded as seed. Only dealers are allowed to sell seeds and in most cases they are sterilized deliberately so that farmers must go back to the shops every planting season.”

The real problem facing Kenyan agriculture, in fact, is drought. The genetically modified varieties which will be used are resistant to some kind of pesticides and produce toxins to be immune from some pests, but currently there is no plant genetically modified to resist to prolonged drought. In a nutshell, GMOs in the Horn of Africa are useless.

In addition, even if GMOs could grant higher yields (which is still to be verified) the problem would not be solved, as it is mostly due to inadequate distribution channels. In fact, as Kenyan media has repeatedly shown, farms in some parts of the country experience a large cereal surplus, which, unable to be transported to markets and sold to people, is used to feed cattle.

Find out more about Slow Food’s campaign against GMOs.

Or write to [email protected]

Source: The Ecologist

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