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October 17, 2018

Anti-GMO activists want ban on GMO retained as university students threaten protests

A group of Civil Societies demonstrate outside Deputy President William Ruto's office against the lifting of the ban on GMOs on September 17, 2015.  /PATRICK VIDIJA
A group of Civil Societies demonstrate outside Deputy President William Ruto's office against the lifting of the ban on GMOs on September 17, 2015. /PATRICK VIDIJA

Anti-GMO activists want the ban on genetically modified organism retained as it does not affect biotechnology studies.

Anne Maina the national coordinator of Kenya Biodiversity Coalition has termed the call to lift the ban by university students as suspect.

“We should not confuse the public that biotechnology is equal to GMO. Biotechnology is broad and includes tissue culture, baking and brewing using yeast. The only controversial aspect of biotechnology is GMO where we cross the species barrier,” she said.

Maina lauded the decision by Parliament to retain the ban and called on the government to embrace Agro-ecology for future of food security and sovereignty in Kenya.

“Agro-ecology embraces sustainable agricultural practices that ensure food for now and for future generations, who will inherit land, that has not been depleted of its nutrients by the use of artificial fertilizers and chemicals,” she said.

The coalition lauded the recent recommendations by the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture to keep the GMO ban.

Maina said there should be no exception for GMO relief food.

“We can easily source for non-GMO food from within African countries like Zambia and Malawi,” she said.

Also read:University students want government to issue licence of GMO maize

However this has been faulted by university students who last week threatened to usher in the new year with demonstration over GMO ban, adding that it is hurting learners undertaking biotechnology courses.

Read: University students threaten demos over GMO ban

The agriculture committee of the National Assembly recently upheld the GMO ban that was imposed by the Ministry of Health but left a window for its importation, in case there is food insecurity.

In the report, the committee's chair Adan Nooru, who is also the Mandera North MP said so far no GM product has been tested by the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) for the safety of human consumption.

The committee further recommended that a law be out in place to ascertain the safety of the products for human consumption.

“This is the first decision by government that is anti-GMO. We see light at the end of the tunnel for the small holder farmers in Kenya. It is a positive step taken by Parliament and Parliament is the voice of the farmers and the weak in the society,” said Hellen Ngema from the Community Health and Agriculture Program.

More on GMO: Ban on GMO products positive for Kenya , says Tonui

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