Raila clarifies stance on importation of GMO maize during his stint as Prime Minister

By , K24 Digital
On Tue, 22 Nov, 2022 08:47 | 3 mins read
Azimio leader Raila Odinga. PHOTO/Courtesy

Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya coalition leader Raila Odinga has come out to clarify his contradicting stances on the importation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

This was after a video clip of him supporting the importation of GMO maize during his stint as the country's prime minister emerged, sparking public debate with quarters accusing him of doublespeak.

In a statement shared through his spokesperson Dennis Onyango, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader who is currently an ardent opposer to the introduction of Genetically modified crops, clarified that when he supported the decision at the time, he had limited information on the dangers of the crops.

He additionally stated that his current opinion on GMOs is not a case of doublespeak but a willingness to learn, unlearn and relearn.

"As science has evolved over the last decade, so has Mr. Odinga's thinking on GMOs," the statement reads in parts.

"Mr. Odinga's current position on GMOs is not a case of doublespeak but a result of the willingness to learn, unlearn and relearn the essence of literacy in the 21st century," Onyango stated.

At the same time, the former premier pledged to support President Wiliam Ruto's administration on the decision to import GMO foods if they (Ruto's gov't) present scientifically backed evidence supporting the safety of the food for consumption.

Raila on GMO

Raila, in a press briefing at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation offices in Nairobi on Sunday, November 20, 2022, said Ruto's administration should immediately reverse this decision on GMO foods until Kenyans have a robust debate on the matter, saying the decision to lift the ban on GMO foods and their importation was a betrayal to Kenyans and the expense of foreign companies with interests in GMO.

Without giving proof, he said some multinationals had approached senior Government officials with clandestine dealings that would see the firms allowed to bring in GMO foods, saying, "UDA regime will subject Kenyans to unproven and dangerous foods in an attempt to please international interests that do not care about our safety."

"GMOs can cause harm to human and animal life and the entire national ecosystems. They can dramatically reduce or eliminate plant diversity. It is a fact that once GMOs are introduced, it is virtually impossible to stop their transfer where natural crops are grown because of wind and insect pollination. In other words, GMOs can completely wipe out native and natural crops leaving Kenyans dependent on seeds and foods produced by GMO multinationals," Raila said.

He added: "Parliament must push for motions to comprehensively and fully debate what the country should do with GMOs. We appeal to the people's representatives to lead this discussion immediately and invite Kenyans from all walks of life to submit their views. The Cabinet cannot decide this matter of grave national importance in secrecy and opacity without the people's input."

The ODM boss noted that there is no scientific study so far that has unequivocally cleared GMOs as fit for human consumption and the environment, saying research findings that have come close to giving GMOs a clean bill of health are sponsored by biotechnology companies or their associates and challenged Ruto to share with Kenyans the scientific study it is relying on to declare GMO maize as fit.

Inflaming tensions

Some of the European Union, America, Asia, and part of African countries, he said, have banned GMOs, which he described as a new form of colonialism "that will leave us permanently at the mercy of malign foreign nations and greedy corporations."

"What does the UDA regime know that these leading countries on the global stage that have banned GMOs do not know? What is this regime's interest in GMOs?" he posed.

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