Former Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Secretary-General, Wilson Sossion has defended the importation of Genetically Modified foods into the country.
Speaking during an interview with K24 TV, Sossion alleged that the use of GMO was certified across different countries in the world and further insinuated that the move was okay for implementation.
He additionally underscored that the decision to import GMO foods would benefit a number of Kenyans affected by the effects of drought across the country.
"GMO foods are certified and are being consumed all over the world. Are we sure that what we have in the supermarkets are not GMO products? The problem we have now is the politics around GMO," he stated.
"We want to avail food to everyone in this country, if GMO seeds will give us more food availed to the citizens so be it, I think this is a matter that we can not politicise but argue with scientifically," he added.
Opinion on GMO
Sossion's remarks come amidst an uproar over the importation of GMO foods into the country after Trade and Industry Cabinet Secretary (CS) announced plans to pave the way for importing 10 million bags of duty-free GMO maize to mitigate the effects of hunger.
In what was likely to cause a storm, especially among opposition politicians and groups opposed to the lifting of the ban on GMO products, Kuria, albeit with a light touch stated that there was no harm in bringing in GMO maize as Kenyans were, in any case, dying from so many causes.
“We have two deliberate steps. One is that we have so many things that can kill us in this country,” he said at the Strathmore Business School during a Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises forum. “Living in this country you are a candidate for death,” he said, sending the audience into sustained laughter.
Kuria said that because there were so many things competing for death, there would be nothing wrong to add GMOs to that list.
“That’s why we have deliberately decided to allow GMOs into this country,” he said. He explained that the decision to allow the importation of duty-free maize was because the country is experiencing a dire food shortage which has exposed more than four million Kenyans to hunger.
“Until we are satisfied that we have enough maize in this country, our staple food, tomorrow I am signing a gazette notice to allow for the importation of up to 10 million bags of maize, duty-free for the next six months until we achieve food security,” he said arguing that it is the cardinal responsibility as a government to ensure the country is food secure. “I know this will offend some people, from the GMO opponents and importers, but I will do this and will do it as government,” he maintained.
“Even if we will lose some votes here and there, but at least we will see the Kingdom of Heaven,” Kuria continued.
The Cabinet approved the lifting of the ban on October 3, paving way for the cultivation and importation of GMO crops including maize after a decade.
In a statement, the government said the lifting of the ban imposed in 2012 will improve food security in the country amid the ravaging drought that has caused hunger in more than 20 counties.
“In accordance with the recommendation of the Task Force to Review Matters Relating to Genetically Modified Foods and Food Safety, and in fidelity with the guidelines of the National Biosafety Authority on all applicable international treaties including the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB), Cabinet vacated its earlier decision of November 8, 2012, prohibiting the open cultivation of genetically modified crops and the importation of food crops and animal feeds produced through biotechnology innovations, effectively lifting the ban on Genetically Modified Crops,” the government said.