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BUSINESS & FOOD: Kenyan officials struggle about investigations in GM maize imports from South Africa



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   EMBASSY DENIES SABOTAGING MPS? TRIP

SOURCE:  Nairobi Star, Kenya

AUTHOR:  John Muchangi

URL:     http://www.nairobistar.com/national/national/30820-embassy-denies-sabotaging-mututho-trip

DATE:    11.07.2011

SUMMARY: "The government has denied that South Africans frustrated a planned trip by MPs to probe illegal importation of genetically modified maize. Parliamentary committee on agriculture planned to visit South Africa since May but chairman John Mututho recently said the high commission in Nairobi was uncooperative and sabotaged the plans. But the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday defended the high commission saying it had fully cooperated with the MPs. [...] letters from the embassy show Mututho arranged and postponed meetings with SA government officials thrice in May and June."

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EMBASSY DENIES SABOTAGING MPS? TRIP

The government has denied that South Africans frustrated a planned trip by MPs to probe illegal importation of genetically modified maize. Parliamentary committee on agriculture planned to visit South Africa since May but chairman John Mututho recently said the high commission in Nairobi was uncooperative and sabotaged the plans. But the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday defended the high commission saying it had fully cooperated with the MPs.

The ministry says the Mututho team kept postponing appointments after committing the embassy to book meetings with key officials in South Africa. ?The high commission has fully cooperated with the committee to facilitate its investigations in South Africa,? the ministry said in a letter signed by public communications manager Mary Ombara.

Mututho recently told the media that his team had on April 4th this year asked the High Commissioner to book appointments for them three months ahead but did not cooperate. Mututho said the country lost Sh2 billion in the maize importation scam. But letters from the embassy show Mututho arranged and postponed meetings with SA government officials thrice in May and June.

The committee would have met officials from SA?s department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries and the department of trade and industry. The investigation would also have taken them to the SA embassy in Mozambique. ?The high commission has been in regular communication with the committee through letters, telephone and emails in every step of the preparations for the visit,? Ombara said in her letter. She said the embassy had assured them it was still ready to set up meetings for the parliamentary committee with relevant Officials in SA.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   MAPUTO MAIZE PROBE TRAVEL PLANS SCRAPPED

SOURCE:  Daily Nation, Kenya

AUTHOR:  Caroline Wafula

URL:     http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Maputo+maize+probe+travel+plans+scrapped++/-/1056/1194554/-/bhoipoz/-/index.html

DATE:    04.07.2011

SUMMARY: "A parliamentary team has again cancelled plans to travel to Mozambique to investigate imports of bad maize into Kenya. The plans were scrapped after a team from the Agriculture, Health and Foreign Relations committees rejected an itinerary drawn up by the Kenyan high commission in Maputo."

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MAPUTO MAIZE PROBE TRAVEL PLANS SCRAPPED

A parliamentary team has again cancelled plans to travel to Mozambique to investigate imports of bad maize into Kenya.

The plans were scrapped after a team from the Agriculture, Health and Foreign Relations committees rejected an itinerary drawn up by the Kenyan high commission in Maputo.

The MPs had been scheduled to travel on Sunday.

Agriculture committee chairman John Mututho said the team might be forced to table its report in Parliament if it fails to make the trip by September.

?We rejected the envoy?s itinerary because we have our own strategy,? he said, adding that foul play was suspected.

The Naivasha MP said the committee believes Maputo holds the key to a syndicate that is importing bad grain.

Importers of condemned cereals are required to ship the cargo back to the country of origin for destruction.

Owners pay destruction charges, which are usually much higher than the cost of the grain.

There are claims that three Kenyan ministers travelled to South Africa in 2009 where a deal was struck to buy controversial maize.

The committee says government officials have failed to explain why documents relating to the grain imports originate from Maputo.

?Someone is concealing something. At Maputo they don?t have a credible port inspection process ... the maize that was shipped there was meant for destruction but a highly organised cartel smuggles the grain out of Maputo to unsuspecting markets. That?s how the maize found its way here,? said Mr Mututho.

?About 40 per cent of GMO maize that landed in Kenya was imported through Maputo and that is why we insist on going there,? he said.

It is alleged all maize that has come into Kenya since 2009 has been condemned for one reason or another. The imports total around 240,000 metric tonnes.

Mr Mututho said the cartel of maize barons in Kenya was more dangerous than the sugar barons.

The committee said the cartels prefer to import GMOs from South Africa when there is a lot of good maize in neighbouring Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia at cheaper prices.



                                  PART 3

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TITLE:   GREENPEACE FAULTS KENYA ON GMO MAIZE IMPORTS

SOURCE:  Daily Nation, Kenya

AUTHOR:  Kevin J. Kelley

URL:     http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Greenpeace+faults+Kenya+on+GMO+maize+imports/-/1056/1197080/-/11tbc4d/-/

DATE:    08.07.2011

SUMMARY: "The global environmental advocacy group Greenpeace is strongly criticising Kenyan authorities for approving the import of genetically modified organisms. ?The decision by the Kenyan government is short-sighted and irresponsible,? Greenpeace Africa campaign director Olivia Langhoff told Nation. ?Instead of falling into the GMO trap, the government should invest in ecological farming and support local farmers, especially small-scale farmers in sustainable farming.?"

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GREENPEACE FAULTS KENYA ON GMO MAIZE IMPORTS

The global environmental advocacy group Greenpeace is strongly criticising Kenyan authorities for approving the import of genetically modified organisms (GMO).

?The decision by the Kenyan government is short-sighted and irresponsible,? Greenpeace Africa campaign director Olivia Langhoff told Nation.

?Instead of falling into the GMO trap, the government should invest in ecological farming and support local farmers, especially small-scale farmers in sustainable farming.?

Greenpeace charges that the new law allowing import of GMO maize can lead to seed contamination.

?The negative impacts on agro biodiversity have been well documented,? Ms Langhoff declares.

?If maize imports are critical in the immediate term,? she adds, ?food supplies should be from sources as close to the areas affected by famines as possible.?

Kenya on July 1 became the fourth African country to permit imports of GMO crops, joining South Africa, Egypt and Burkina Faso.

Supporters of the move say it is essential in helping to stabilise prices and to feed millions of hungry Kenyans.

Separately, a US-based food research organisation is warning that Kenya?s pastoralists, already beleaguered by the worst drought in 60 years, could see pieces of their grazing land given over to Western corporations for cultivation of biofuels.

Richard Jonasse, a leader of the Institute for Food and Development Policy, cites a report last year that 502,000 hectares in Kenya have been leased for potential production of jatropha (oil seed).

?While jatropha is a drought-tolerant species, this does not mean that it grows on unused land,? Jonasse writes. ?Pastoralists use dry marginal lands to feed their stock. Taking away this grazing land would have a tremendous impact on these herders, linking their very existence to volatile commodities markets in the economic capitals of Europe and North America.?



                                  PART 4

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TITLE:   GMO MAIZE FLOUR TO BE SOLD IN SHOPS

SOURCE:  Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, Kenya (KBC)

AUTHOR:  O?brien Kimani

URL:     http://www.kbc.co.ke/news.asp?nid=71205

DATE:    08.07.2011

SUMMARY: "Kenyans will soon start buying genetically modified maize flour from the nearest outlet stores. However the flour will be clearly labelled to give consumers freedom to choose. This came even as Cereal millers refuted claims that GMO maize has been imported into the country.  [...] Major supermarkets have doubled the price of a 2kg packet of flour owing to the shortage. The price of Jogoo brand is now at Sh150, up from Sh75."

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GMO MAIZE FLOUR TO BE SOLD IN SHOPS

Major supermarkets have doubled the price of a 2kg packet of flour owing to the shortage

Kenyans will soon start buying genetically modified maize flour from the nearest outlet stores.

However the flour will be clearly labelled to give consumers freedom to choose. This came even as Cereal millers refuted claims that GMO maize has been imported into the country.

The chairman of cereal millers Diamond Lalji addressing the press on Friday, said millers are awaiting import and distribution guidelines from the National Bio-Safety Authority, the body charged with regulating all GM activities in Kenya.

He said all imported maize is being sourced from Zambia and Malawi which do not produce genetically modified crops.

The government last month allowed millers to import cheaper genetically modified maize from South Africa to help ease the acute shortage in the country.

Major supermarkets have doubled the price of a 2kg packet of flour owing to the shortage. The price of Jogoo brand is now at Sh150, up from Sh75.

Protests

Early this week, protestors marched through the streets of Nairobi, against the planned importation of genetically engineered maize by millers.

The demonstrators claimed that a large shipment loaded with GM maize had already docked at the port of Mombasa, and feared it could contaminate the soil.

Next week, the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture plans to visit the port to ascertain the status of the 8,000 metric tons of imported maize.

African governments have been under pressure from pro-GM lobbies to allow the crops to avert food shortage.

Kenya has however been pursuing the adoption of genetically modified crops after the government gazetted the Biosafety Act. President Kibaki signed it into law in 2009.

Opponents say GMOs could have harmful long-term genetic impact on humans and wildlife.

In 2002, Zambia rejected GM food aid in the midst of a food crisis affecting some three million people.