Kenya Breaking News

Students join farmers and scientists in pro-GMO street demos

Several Kenyans including scientists, lecturers, science students, and farmers growing genetically modified cotton on Wednesday took to the streets in Nairobi in a show of support for GMOs in Kenya.

Under the umbrella of RePlanet Africa, a communication and training outfit that seeks to improve public understanding of science, the group carried banners and placards bearing messages about GMOs being safe for human consumption.

The peaceful procession started at Jevanjee Gardens on Moi Avenue across the Central Business District and ended at Memorial Park on Haille Selasie Road.

The group sought to draw attention to the critical role of science and specifically GMOs in addressing the chronic food crisis in the country.

Participants emphasised their support for government’s decision to lift the decade-long ban on the importation, sale and consumption of GMOs.

They said the government decision was one of the ways to avert the endemic food crisis and guarantee that every Kenyan has access to safe and nutritious food.

While addressing the media at the end of the procession at the Memorial Park on Haille Selasie Avenue, Replanet Africa Country Representative Timothy Machi painted a gloomy picture of the food situation in Kenya and the region.

“As a country, we are at a place where feeding ourselves is increasingly becoming difficult,” Machi said.

He said statistics from the World Food Programme (WFP), Machi noted that in 2021, an estimated 2.1 million Kenyans faced the risk of starvation but the number rose by 84 per cent to 4.4 million between October and December of 2022.

He blamed the worsening food crisis in the region on climate change that resulted in three seasons of failed rains, rapid population growth and underperforming food systems.

“At RePlanet Africa, we know the answer to these challenges lies with science. That is why today, we are happy to have brought together the different stakeholders among them scientists, academia and farmers to ask Kenyans, leaders and policymakers to listen to and give science a chance to feed Kenyans through GMOs,” he said.

“GMOs are an important tool in the fight against hunger and poverty, and we are proud to be taking a stand in support of their use and to support the government on lifting a ban in the importation and consumption of GMOs in Kenya,” Machi added.

The scientists affirmed that GMOs had been proven safe and effective in providing a sustainable and reliable food source for the world’s growing population.

Kennedy Oyugi, an agricultural scientist based at Africa Harvest, said GMOs as products of science, have the potential to revolutionise the way Kenya produces food, making it more efficient and sustainable as to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.

“GMOs by and large help reduce the use of pesticides, increase crop yields and improve the nutritional value of food,” Oyugi said.

He added that GMOs also help reduce the environmental impact of food production, as they require fewer resources to produce.

“We believe that GMOs have the potential to help feed the world’s growing population while also reducing the environmental impact of food production,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of science students from different universities in Kenya, Peter Gichuki, a Livestock Production student at the University of Nairobi said several tests by organizations including the National Bio-Safety Authority found GMOs safe for human consumption.

Daniel Magondu, a BT cotton farmer from Kirinyaga county said a shift from traditional cotton had seen him earn three times more with less use of pesticides and time on the farm.

-The-Star

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