Group threatens KARI with court action over GMOs
By Maxwell Masava

KENYA Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) has been threatened with a court action if it fails to divulge information regarding Genetically Modified Organisms.

Yesterday, Africa Nature Stream - a non governmental organisation opposed to the introduction of genetically modified organisms in the country - gave KARI seven days to respond to questions regarding the GMOs and their impact on human life.

Speaking in Nairobi, the organization’s chairman Masoa Muindi accused the government and Kari in particular of trying to introduce GMOs on behalf unnamed foreign companies without considering its impact on the environment and human health.

He accused Kenyan scientists of being money-minded and said the introduction of GM seeds in the country would destroy the economy. GM crops were likely to multiply and introduce diseases, besides degrading the environment, he said.

In a letter to KARI, which is also copied to the Office of the President, ministries, foreign missions and other goverment departments, the organization claimed that the new technology was a plot by Western countries to destroy African economies.

Muindi said Kari was inducing Kenyans through the media to accept genetically modified products without the knowledge of existing dangers. He challenged Kari to tell farmers whether the seeds they released in Eastern and Western provinces were GMO or not.

"Most of the GMO seeds for research are imported from countries which have refused to plant them in open fields and are now ostensibly using Kenya through Kari to provide open fields illegally without declaring to the public that the research done is in respect of the genetically modified crops," said Muindi.

The organization claimed that the country had enough capacity to produce natural food for its citizens. He questioned the genetic composition of seed varieties released on market and why Kari was reluctant to inform Kenyans about the product.

The security of neighbouring countries was brought forward as the organisation questioned whether Kenyan authorities had informed its anti-GMO neighbours of a looming cross border contamination of natural crops.

The group alleged that the President had been mis-advised by a few scientists in supporting the GMOs and said the technology would kill Kenya’s export market of crops and other processed foods for many years to come besides causing serious health complications to the population.

So far sweet potatoes, bananas and trees have been introduced in Kenya.

Dr Florence Wabungu of Africa Harvest Biotech International says GM is the only way to feed the country’s rising population.