GMOs, Health & Disease, Village Development — by African Biodiversity Network July 7, 2011
A press release from the African Biodiversity Network
We demand the recognition of organic agriculture and other agro-ecological farming practices in Kenya’s agriculture policies and practices.
The developers of GMOs have exerted great pressure to ensure that our recently enacted Biosafety Act of 2009 serves the interests of foreign agribusiness, rather than farmers and consumers. The introduction of patented seeds and related chemicals into our farming systems threatens our agricultural practices, our livelihoods, the environment, and undermines our seed sovereignty. We believe that we can feed our communities and this country with organic and agroecological farming practices that do not destroy, pollute and contaminate food, land and seeds. Our ability to feed Africa through agro-ecological practices is recognised and supported by UN reports [see also], the IAASTD report and many research findings. We call upon the government to support small scale farmers in having access to water and capacity building in agro-ecology and for this to be enshrined in our Kenyan policies.
There is a growing body of scientific evidence to show that GMOs can cause serious damage to health, environment, food production and livelihoods. For example, animal feeding trials have shown damage to liver, kidney and pancreas, effects on fertility and stomach bleeding. A most recent study carried out on pregnant women in Canada found genetically modified insecticidal proteins in their blood streams and in that of their foetus [see also]. The developers of GMOs have always claimed that this is impossible; they have stated that these proteins are broken down in the digestive process and will not be found in the body. This recent finding is sending shock waves around the medical and scientific community.
Some of the problematic environmental consequences of GMOs include the development of insect resistance to the pesticides engineered into crops as well as the emergence of new and secondary pests destroying farmers’ crops forcing them to buy and use highly toxic pesticides. Further, the development of herbicide tolerant weeds are choking farmer’s fields. These weeds can no longer be controlled by modern herbicides, forcing farmers to spray high doses of older more toxic chemicals in an effort to control them. This has disastrous consequences for environmental and human health.
We do not believe that top-down technological solutions will solve the many challenges that Kenyan farmers face. This one-size-fits all solution cannot attend to our varied needs. Instead, we call for collaboration between farmers, scientists and government to ensure that we produce healthy and plentiful food. This “solutions centred” approach and farmer-scientist cooperation has in the past resulted in such innovations like the Katumani breed of maize for drier areas of Kenya and an improvement in food production systems and increased yields in a sustainable way. Everything that genetic engineering is claimed to offer can readily be achieved through safer methods such as non-GM breeding, intercropping and creative innovation. Our public research institutions must shift their focus back to farmers needs rather than support the agenda of agribusiness, which is to colonise our food and seed chain. We believe that the patenting of seed is deeply unethical and dangerous; it undermines farmers’ rights to save seeds and will make us wholly dependent on corporations in the future.
Farmers of Kenya believe that hunger is not caused by under-production of food, but because people have no money to buy food [see also]. Thus it cannot be said that GMOs are the solution to poverty and hunger. Article 43 of the Kenya constitution affirms that every person has a right to be free from hunger and to have adequate food of acceptable quality (Not GMOs!).
We demand that the Kenyan government recognizes the importance of agroecological practices as the primary farming practice in the country by enacting concrete legislation on it and allocating an annual budget for capacity building of small farmers who want to practice agroecological practices.
Further, we demand that the government, through a concrete policy statement, protects the integrity of agroecological practices and farmer saved seed varieties by banning the introduction of GMOs into Kenya.
African Biodiversity Network (ABN)
Tel: +254 722 386 263
Email: anne (at) africanbiodiversity.org
Social Justice Activist
Bunge La Mwananchi Social Movement
Tel: +254 720 318 049
Email: ggacheke (at) gmail.com
Tel: +254 721 609 699
Email: ungarevolution (at) gmail.com