AP

Food security, consumer groups protest Kenya’s GMO decision

Oct 5, 2022, 6:43 PM | Updated: Oct 6, 2022, 9:05 am

Kenya's new president William Ruto arrives to be sworn in to office at a ceremony held at Kasarani ...

Kenya's new president William Ruto arrives to be sworn in to office at a ceremony held at Kasarani stadium in Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. On Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, food security, consumer rights and biodiversity groups issued a join statement to protest against the decision of Kenya's new President William Ruto to lift the decade-old ban on openly cultivating and importing genetically modified crops. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga, File)

(AP Photo/Brian Inganga, File)

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Food security, consumer rights and biodiversity groups are protesting Kenya’s reversal of a ban on genetically modified foods, saying the public wasn’t consulted on an issue key to the East African country’s economy and safety.

Kenya’s new President William Ruto earlier this week announced that the Cabinet had effectively lifted the decade-old ban on openly cultivating and importing genetically modified crops. The decision came after pressure by the United States government, which had argued that the ban affected U.S. agricultural exports and food aid.

In a joint statement on Thursday, the groups including the Kenya-based Consumer Grassroots Association, Route to Food, Greenpeace Africa and the African Biodiversity Network said the abrupt decision “essentially curtails the freedom of Kenyans to choose what they want to eat.” They called for the ban to be reinstated immediately and for an “inclusive participatory process” to look into food security issues.

Ruto took office last month promising a transparent government, the statement said. It also argued that the introduction of genetically modified organisms hurts the growing organic export market and creates an unfair situation for Kenyan farmers, 80% of whom are farming on a small scale.

Agriculture is a main driver of Kenya’s economy and about 70% of the rural workforce is in farming. Ruto, a former agriculture minister, seeks greater agricultural productivity.

“GMOs will put at risk our indigenous seed and plant varieties,” the statement said, adding that the National Biosafety Authority that’s meant to regulate GMOs lacks the capacity to take on this expansion. Kenya’s Cabinet in 2019 made a limited step by approving the commercialization of a genetically enhanced variety of cotton to resist the African bollworm pest.

Many African countries have bans on genetically modified agriculture, amid concerns about potentially harmful effects on smallholder farms, existing crops, the environment and people’s long-term health.

Following Kenya’s decision, neighboring Tanzania’s agriculture minister told local newspaper The Citizen that “we will put in place extra measures so as to make sure there aren’t any GM-related seeds that enter the country.”

A spokesman for Kenya’s president didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday’s statement.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Image: Members of the Makah Indian tribe paddle away from the rising sun as they head from Neah Bay...

Associated Press

Washington’s Makah Tribe clears major hurdle toward resuming traditional whale hunts

The U.S. granted the Makah Indian Tribe a long-sought waiver that helps clear the way for its first sanctioned whale hunts since 1999.

11 hours ago

jerry west...

Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press

Jerry West, a 3-time Hall of Fame selection and the NBA logo, dies at 86

Jerry West, a three-time Basketball Hall of Fame inductee whose silhouette is considered to be the basis of the NBA logo, died Wednesday morning.

2 days ago

Photo: Construction vehicles are parked outside of the Station U & O building on Tuesday, June 11, ...

Haleluya Hadero, The Associated Press

Amazon adds $1.4B to affordable housing fund for regions where it has corporate offices

Amazon is adding $1.4B to a fund for building more affordable housing in regions where the company has major corporate offices.

2 days ago

hunter biden...

Randall Chase and the Associated Press

Hunter Biden convicted of all 3 felony charges in federal gun trial

Hunter Biden has been convicted of all three felony charges related to the purchase of a revolver in 2018, but no sentencing date was set.

3 days ago

Photo: A Bremerton man who made 20 "swatting" calls around the U.S. and in Canada, prompting real e...

Associated Press

Bremerton man sentenced for 20 ‘swatting’ calls of false threats in US, Canada

A Bremerton man who made 20 "swatting" calls around the U.S. and in Canada, prompting real emergency responses, has been sentenced.

3 days ago

Image: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, left, speaks with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zele...

Associated Press

Ukraine uses US weapons to strike inside Russia, a Western official tells AP

Ukraine has used U.S weapons to strike inside Russia in recent days, according to a Western official familiar with the matter told the AP.

9 days ago

Food security, consumer groups protest Kenya’s GMO decision