Protests over Biosafety Bill in Kenya
2.Biosafety Bill Kenya - Reasons for Supporting the Petition
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1.Protests over Biosafety Bill
Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, 16 October 2007
The battle against the Biosafety Bill went a notch higher on Tuesday when civil society groups took to the streets to urge President Kibaki not to assent to the Bill.
The groups claims the Bill seeks to introduce Genetically Modified Food products through the back door.
The Anti GMO groups who included farmers demonstrated through various Nairobi streets to oppose the Biosafety bill 2007 which they claim will introduce genetically modified crops.
The protestors want the bill to be shelved until after the general elections scheduled for December.
They claim the introduction of GM crops, will impact negatively on trade and agriculture and also encourage dumping of genetically modified food that has been rejected in other countries into Kenya.
The group also took its grievances to the Head of Civil Service Ambassador Francis Muthaura.
Proponents of the Bill claim it provides a legal framework to a wide range of research and study on biotechnology, which can enhance food production.
With only a few days before Parliament is prorogued it is uncertain whether Mps will be able to finalize debate on the Biosafety Bill or it may just have to wait until the tenth Parliament.
2.Biosafety Bill Kenya
Udongo - Petition
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The Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act, 2007 is an Act of Parliament to make amendments to the Statute law. The Biosafety Bill is included in this Bill for Amendment and enactment.
1. Previous Bills enacted under the Miscellaneous Amendments Act have been poorly crafted and with limited discussion. The Biosafety Bill should have wider consultation and be clear on all its mandates.
2. This being the end of a parliament session leading to an election, the ground is fertile for powerful lobby groups to influence certain individuals in return for campaign donations. It is also an opportunity for Civil Society to take politicians to task.
3. Most parliamentarians in the current parliament are unelectable therefore increasing the risk of lobby groups taking advantage of this weakness.
The Bill provides for the safe entry of GMOs into the country. It calls for the establishment of the National Biosafety Authority and sets out the latter's powers and responsibilities in regulating research, importation and commercialisation of GMOs.
Read the Draft GMO Bill - Kenya here!
The roles of different regulatory agencies in biosafety are evolving but not yet concretized in Kenya.
Designer farming should address the fear of a likelihood that cultivating GM-crops might lead to decimation of such useful insects as bees and butterflies affecting the already fragile global ecosystems.
Poor farmers will be left at the mercy of Western companies selling expensive inputs, if GM crops become the only option. Organic farming in Africa, should be supported as an local strategy to climate change mitigation as opposed to introducing new crops in unstable environments within the climate change frameworks.
There has been little change to the original draft Bill made in 2005. Same concerns raised then still remain.
There is Institutional Weakness
Kenya requires documentation about GMO status of imports but there are no serious constraints regarding imports of transgenic products both as food aid and commercial. The U.S. exported transgenic products to Kenya in 2005. These include shipments under the McGovern Dole Food for Education Program, USAID food aid programs (Food for Progress). The products are soybean/products and corn/products. (GAIN Report Number: KE6006-Kenya Biotechnology Kenya Biotechnology Report 2006)
Food Aid Argument (There are some ethical issues)
According to the USAID report: Kenya is a food aid recipient country, the most recent instance being food aid for the drought appeal made by the president of Kenya (2006) and the food for education initiative. There are no serious indications that the GOK may implement policies restricting the use of bioengineered commodities in food aid programs. Read the Report Here
http://udongo.org/2007/10/14/biosafety-bill-kenya-usda-foreign-agenda ('USAID Report on GMO Kenya')
The report cites opportunities based on ignorance and lack of information: It states - Kenyan importers, retailers and consumers have not expressed serious concerns about importation, sale or use of transgenic products.
A coalition of 43 NGOs supports an effective and powerful biosafety law to regulate GMOs, it has decried the 'intentional scheme' to weaken the Bill so that the importation and commercialisation of GMOs can be 'hussle-free.'
The BILL does not incorporate the views of farmers and ordinary Kenyans but rather took a 'boardroom approach'.
Bill does not leave room for Kenyans to debate whether or not they ought to accept GMOs in Kenya
Bill does not ask importers of GMOs to label them appropriately, neither does it deal with the safety of pharmaceutical products or food aid entering the country.
It is too lenient on those who might release a GMO that harms public health or the environment.
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