A number of players in the agricultural sector are demanding for a multisectorial dialogue and participation processes whenever policy positions are made in regards to the sector.
In a joint press statement read on Thursday, November 15th at the Sarova Stanley Hotel, The Route to Food Initiative (RTFI), Kenya Biodiversity Coalition (KBioc), Africa Biodiversity Network (ABN) and Greenpeace Africa expressed concerns about the government’s unilateral decision to adopt genetically modified crops.
The four organizations referred to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s speech on Mashujaa Day celebrations this year, where he directed the Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Trade to develop “a quick mechanism to revive the production of the cotton sector, including the possibility of farming Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton.”
In their call for transparency and public participation in Kenya’s adoption of policy positions on GM technology, the stakeholders are asking why the government is considering the possibilities of Bt Cotton farming and profiling yield increases from genetically modified maize, when the 2012 ban on GM food imports is still in effect and a public engagement on whether the country is ready for this technology has not been held.
“We see these actions as an attempt to introduce GMOs in the country despite the current legislative disposition. Additionally, an all-inclusive nationwide discourse through public participation, which addresses whether the technology is appropriate for us, is being circumvented.” indicated Ms. Anne Maina, the national coordinator of KBioc who read the statement on behalf of the four groups.
The organizations which are involved in the promotion of food rights and the adoption of sustainable solutions to the problem of food security indicate that a multi-stakeholder and all-inclusive debate, is necessary to ensure effective public participation on the GMO issue, before the rush to promote, adopt and commercialize the GMOs.
Genetically engineered (GE) seeds and crops have led to an overdependence on corporates for seeds and other farm inputs hence increasing vulnerability to shocks related to food production. This has lured many farmers into the use of agrochemicals which stands in the way of sustainable practices such as ecological agriculture.
In summation, It is their view therefore that the government halt its online media campaigns on the issue, until such a time that a consensus is reached, on the way forward amongst the players in the industry.