In a gutsy move, Kenya's government has banned all imported GMO goods - effective immediately. They are also suspending all sales of genetically modified produce and foods with GM ingredients until health safety is confirmed. The ban is not permanent, however - it depends on what evidence the ministry concludes. Biotechnology research can continue.
On November 8th, Health Minister Beth Mugo made the announcement with Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki present and also said:
My ministry wishes to clarify the decision was based on genuine concerns that adequate research had not been done on GMOs and scientific evidence provided to prove the safety of these foods.Taking a better-safe-than-sorry approach, she added, "Where there is apprehension and uncertainty regarding the safety of food products, precaution to protect the health of the people must be undertaken."
This new health fear is most likely a result of the now famous French GMO study in September, complete with pictures of grotesquely tumored rats. Or maybe even rising suspicions and admissions of biotech scientist knowledge of an infertility gene - and a coordinating rise of infertility and miscarriages in humans but definitely, undeniably those issues and death in cattle eating GMO feed.
One biotech scientist wrote to Natural Society, telling them it would be "awesome" if "this **** causes infertility" because he's among those who fiercely believe the world is overpopulated, and goes on to say that GMO is saving the planet.
The news is flying fast with cheers through anti-GMO consumers on Facebook using the Internet meme picture of a happy African boy with a fist in the air saying "Aww Yeah!!!" and "Kenya just banned GMOs!"
Despite hints of ultimate depopulation efforts and major safety concerns, it is not surprising that many biotech researchers, universities, farmers, students, and consumers are unhappy about the decision. They've got investments riding on genetic modification in fear of a growing (deliberate) food crisis and hopes of economic uptick.
They are also perplexed because, until now, GMO efforts enjoyed friendly laws. Dr Silas Obukosia, Director Regulatory Affairs at Africa Harvest thought the ban was misinformed and hindered Kenya's ability to increase food production:
Mugo’s ban on the importation and trade of GMOs due lack of evidence regarding their safety is puzzling. This is because major investments such as the approval of the National Biotechnology Development Policy by the Cabinet in 2006, and the enactment of the Biosafety Act in 2009, and gazettment of three different biosafety regulations in 2011 have been made to address the issue of safety. A lot of money has been pumped in by universities in creating masters and PhD programmes in biotechnology which need to be supported by friendly laws. SourceBut take a good look at the names of those institutions - bias much? It is reminiscent of our FDA and USDA allowing Monsanto to conduct its own safety studies.
The pressure is on with headlines like "Kenya risks losing billions over GMO ban." Those are hypothetical billions of course - it was spoken at a big Ag Biotechnology forum and focused on Africa being a transit point for GM food with other countries. Arguments against the ban focus on food security, the economy, and wasted money - not sincere public health.
While those will cry unfair - what we don't want to see in Africa is what's happening in India, where tens of thousands of farmers have committed suicide, some by dousing themselves with Roundup-ready pesticides and setting fire, making one last statement about their betrayers. They risked Monsanto crops and went destitute when "the crops to end world hunger" failed to yield. They, their families and their communities lost more than just their initial investments.
Ms. Mugo and the cabinet have more true public safety in mind than many will ever realize for some time to come. Let's hope the ban holds during their safety confirmations - if the ban is lifted do you think it will make the news? They've already taken a big step with the ban and nipping disease and corporate takeover in the genetic bud.
This news follows the recent GMO suspension in Russia (following the French study) and Peru's legislative 10-year-ban finally coming into effect.
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