Industry And Cluster | News & Insights

Kenyan experts prefer organic farming option over GM crops.

Published: June 18, 2019

As Kenya works to embrace genetically-modified (GM) crops, agriculture experts and lobby groups are urging the government to explore and adopt alternative food production systems and organic farming instead. The country is expected to take a decision in the next few months on whether to lift a ban on GM food imports, which has been in force since 2012. Kenya is expected to introduce genetically modified Bt cotton any time soon, with trials for Bt maize set to start. The introduction of Bt cotton followed a directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta in June last year, asking technocrats in the health and agriculture ministry to explore the farming of the cotton variety to boost the textile industry. Organic farming should be embraced and popularised to produce safe food, Route to Food Initiative youth ambassador Emmanuel Atamba said at a recent meeting on GM organisms and sustainable farming organised by the organisation in Nairobi. He said that food insecurity is not a problem of quantity of produce, but rather affordability and sovereignty, thus genetically engineered seeds cannot solve this challenge.

GM seeds and farm produce represent a corporate takeover of Kenya’s food systems as opposed to sustainable farming, a news agency report quoted WanjiruKamau, an agriculture policy expert, as saying. Kamau observed that GMOs throw farmers into long-term dependencies, undermine critical biodiversity and promote large-scale industrial agriculture, which exacerbates poverty particularly in a context where the majority of farmers are smallholder ones. However, TheophilusMutui, acting director for technical services at the National Biosafety Authority (NBA), assured that the institution is working to ensure the environment is protected when Kenya finally adopts GMOs.

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