Listen to Kenyans first, interreligious council tells govt on GMO importation

GMO importation

Religious leaders want the government to halt the GMO importation plan and engage Kenyans in collecting views on the move.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

A group of interreligious council in Vihiga County is calling for public participation on the raging debate over importation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) even as the government insists on carrying on with the plan amid massive opposition.

Led by the council's chairman, Fr Martin Chibole, the religious leaders asked the government to halt the importation plan and engage Kenyans in collecting views on the move that is intended to help address the biting food shortage in the country.

And as religious leaders called for public participation, the local Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) is asking the government to import the deficit only so as to cushion local traders against making losses.

Fr Chibole cited concerns around health and adverse effects caused by GMOs on the soil as the reason for public participation.

He said views collected from Kenyans will help the government make an informed decision on the push to import GMO maize into the country.

"We are asking the government to halt the importation order and engage public participation to gather views from Kenyans.It is largely believed GMO has adverse effects on health and the soil. At the moment, many of our people are struggling with cancer," said Fr Chibole.

"GMO might be the cause of increased cancerous infections. Public participation will help resolve this matter."

The cleric said religious leaders have a feeling that the government rushed when it lifted the ban on GMO that was placed ten years ago.

The religious leaders also took issue with Trade CS Mr Moses Kuria for "bragging" that the importation plan will go on despite concerns being raised by Kenyans.

And speaking separately, Vihiga branch KNCCI chairman Dr Billy Nyonje complained the move to import GMO would hurt local business.

Import only deficit

He asked the government to first establish the deficit that is in the country before proceeding to import.

Dr Nyonje said the government should only import the deficit amount so as to save the farmers who still have maize in their stores.

He said there is maize in the North Rift, Trans Nzoia, Bungoma and South Nyanza.

"Importation of GMO will affect the local business and only benefit people from outside. The government should first prove the scientific safety of GMO and if found to be safe, they should only import what will only carter for the deficit," said Dr Nyonje.

He said this at a time when reports are indicating farmers are in fear of selling their maize over concerns that prices would go down.

In October, Dr Nyonje had called for proper regulations and policies following the move by the government to lift the ban on GMOs.

“We don’t want to experiment on people’s lives. We don’t want the next generation to be affected by the emergence of diseases. Researchers and scientists must be vigilant and educate the public on GMO,” Dr Nyonje said in October.


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