No to GMOs in Kenya

14 Sep 2015

A plan to introduce genetically modified crops has recently been announced in Kenya. In 2011 the Kenyan government had already 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 decision was reversed in 2012 when Mrs. Beth Mugo, who was the Publican Health Minister, announced the barn of these products due to safety concerns over their consumption.


The new government plans that leave the door open for GM cultivation are strongly opposed by environmentalist associations and local food producers, who are worried that the introduction of GMOs 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, who coordinates the Slow Food activities in the country. “With their excessive influence over many aspects of global economic, political and social life, they have lured some African governments into allowing the cultivation of GMOs….This decision is threating local agro-biodiversity. 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 cultivated.”


The genetically modified varieties to be used are said to be resistant to some diseases and produce toxins that enable them to be immune from some pests, but currently there is no known genetically modified plant that is resistant to prolonged drought. This means that GMOs in the Horn of Africa will not in anyway address the current problems being faced in the region. In addition, even if GMOs could increase yields (which has not yet been verified) the problem of food shortage would not be solved. This is because inefficient distribution channels, food waste and post-harvest losses are the main contributors to this problem. When almost one billion people go to bed hungry almost the same number of people are overweight.


The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity has been working in Africa since 2010 and is currently active in more than 40 African countries to create 10,000 school and community gardens. The food gardens are aimed at promoting sustainable models of food production and ensuring that communities have the right to decide what they want to cultivate, eat and market.


A food garden is a drop in the ocean compared to the problems that Africa faces every day. But if the number of gardens grows from a hundred to a thousand to ten thousand, and they dialog together and support each other, their impact grows. Together, they can transform into a single voice, speaking out against land grabbing, GMOs and intensive agriculture, and in favor of traditional knowledge, sustainability and food sovereignty.


Find out more about Slow Food’s position on GMOs

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