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POLICY & REGULATION: Kenyan leaders split on bid to import GM maize



                                  PART 1


------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   LEADERS SPLIT ON BID TO IMPORT GM MAIZE

SOURCE:  Daily Nation, Kenya

AUTHOR:  

URL:     http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Leaders+split+on+bid+to+import+GM+maize+/-/1056/1202826/-/jcvd2d/-/

DATE:    17.07.2011

SUMMARY: "Differences continued to emerge among leaders over whether the country should import genetically modified crops. Medical assistant minister Kazungu Kambi and Belgut MP Charles Keter warned against the importation of GM maize, arguing that it had negative effects. ?We do not want our people to eat GM maize because it has bad effects on their health. We totally are against it,? said Mr Kambi. However, Agriculture secretary Wilson Songa said the country could not run away from GM technology. ?The technology is coming, there is no stopping it,? he said. "

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LEADERS SPLIT ON BID TO IMPORT GM MAIZE

Differences continued to emerge among leaders over whether the country should import genetically modified crops.

Medical assistant minister Kazungu Kambi and Belgut MP Charles Keter warned against the importation of GM maize, arguing that it had negative effects.

?We do not want our people to eat GM maize because it has bad effects on their health. We totally are against it,? said Mr Kambi. 

However, Agriculture secretary Wilson Songa said the country could not run away from GM technology.

?The technology is coming, there is no stopping it,? he said. 

Boost production

Dr Songa said maize production in the country would double if the country adopted GM crops.

?Before we fully introduce the crop, it will go through the necessary agro-research analysis through Kenya Agricultural Research Institute,? he said.

He argued that a farm with GM crop could produce as much as 40 to 50 bags of maize per acre unlike the current case where only 30 bags were produced. 

Kenya produces about 32 million bags of maize yearly while the consumption has shot up to 38 million due to rise in population.

The agriculture secretary noted that if the country adopted the technology, production would shoot up to about 64 million bags. 

A 90kg bag of maize is currently going for Sh4,500, up from Sh1,200 three years ago. 

Speaking during a Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security meeting at Intercontinental Hotel, Dr Songa said the country could not be competitive if it stuck to the old traditional methods of farming.

He cited South Africa, where farmers used three to four pesticides on a GM crop while in Kenya farmers used more than 15 pesticides before a crop matured.



                                  PART 2

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   DECISION TO ALLOW GMOS A MAJOR GOOF

SOURCE:  Capital News, Kenya

AUTHOR:  Sarah Wambui

URL:     http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2011/07/16/decision-to-allow-gmos-a-major-goof/

DATE:    16.07.2011

SUMMARY: "Mathira Member of Parliament Ephraim Maina has criticised the government for approving the importation of Genetically Modified Foods saying proper research should have been conducted first. Speaking to journalists in Nairobi on Friday, Mr Maina argued that the government should have addressed the health concerns raised on GMOs by various institutions before allowing them into the country."

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DECISION TO ALLOW GMOS A MAJOR GOOF

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 16 ? Mathira Member of Parliament Ephraim Maina has criticised the government for approving the importation of Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs) saying proper research should have been conducted first.

Speaking to journalists in Nairobi on Friday, Mr Maina argued that the government should have addressed the health concerns raised on GMOs by various institutions before allowing them into the country.

The cabinet on Thursday authorised millers to import genetically modified maize for production into flour to curb the food crisis although Public Health minister Beth Mugo had earlier denied that the goods had been cleared for importation.

?One arm of government says this and then the other says something else. We have to go by the expert ministry which has already condemned this maize and the minister has told me that the maize has not been cleared so what?s happening?? he posed.

Mr Maina also said that Kenya was better off importing maize from neighbouring countries rather than importing the GMOs. He further vowed to raise the matter in Parliament next week when the House reconvenes.

Although the Cabinet approved the importation of the products, it placed tight control measures on the imports. The maize should only be used for the production of flour and shall not be used as seeds for farming. In addition, all millers must clearly label flour from the genetically modified maize.

?We have maize in countries such as Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi and we should have imported their maize as we wait for our harvests. The GMOs should not be allowed into our country,? he maintained.

He has also reiterated his position on the amended Price Control Bill saying he would re-introduce in to Parliament next week.

The Mathira MP and Chairman of the Central Kenya Parliamentary group first tabled his Bill in July 2009 before MPs adopted it in 2010. President Mwai Kibaki however declined to sign it into law citing concerns that had been raised by various economists.

Some business analysts argue that the Bill will, in the long term, make markets uncompetitive. It proposes to have a fixed price on fast moving food products as well as fuel products.

Mr Maina explained that the amended Bill had addressed concerns that were raised by the President adding that it had been synchronised with the international standards.

?Some of the amendments were in regard to harmonising it with international practices that Kenya is party to. But let us wait until the Bill comes back to the floor of the House,? he said.

He also maintained that the Bill would cushion underprivileged Kenyans from the rising costs of living once it was effected. He added that Vision 2030 would remain a mirage for Kenya if the government failed to look into ways of softening the financial burden on its citizens.

?As far as I?m concerned Vision 2030 has a lot to do with the cost of living. Kenyans should be able to afford good education, good healthcare and good food for their children; that?s what Vision 2030 should be about,? he said.

?It has nothing to do with great airports and great highways for Mercedes and other cars driven by a small class of people,? he quipped.



                                  PART 3

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   MURIUKI CALLS FOR A FOOD SAFETY BILL

SOURCE:  The Standard, Kenya

AUTHOR:  Patrick Muriungi

URL:     http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/politics/InsidePage.php?id=2000039042&cid=4

DATE:    16.07.2011

SUMMARY: "North Imenti MP Silas Muriuki has urged the Government to put in place proper mechanisms and consult widely with consumers before sanctioning sale of Genetically Modified maize in the country. The MP, who is a strong critic of GMO food, said it was illegal to allow people and especially children to consume such food without their knowledge of possible repercussions. ?Right mechanisms should first be put in place before we allow its consumption. All stakeholders should be consulted to enable them make informed decisions before partaking the food,? said Muriuki."

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MURIUKI CALLS FOR A FOOD SAFETY BILL

North Imenti MP Silas Muriuki has urged the Government to put in place proper mechanisms and consult widely with consumers before sanctioning sale of Genetically Modified (GMO) maize in the country. The MP, who is a strong critic of GMO food, said it was illegal to allow people and especially children to consume such food without their knowledge of possible repercussions.

?Right mechanisms should first be put in place before we allow its consumption. All stakeholders should be consulted to enable them make informed decisions before partaking the food,? said Muriuki.

Speaking in Meru town, the MP challenged the Government to introduce a Food Safety Bill indicating the type of food being released to the various institutions.

?Developed countries like Germany do not allow this kind of food in their country. Newborns risk dangerous diseases if the mother consumes the same. This might lead to reduction of the population and other negative effects,? noted the MP who is also the chairman of the Meru Parliamentary Group.



                                  PART 4

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   MPS THREATEN TO BLOCK GMO IMPORTATION

SOURCE:  Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, Kenya (KBC)

AUTHOR:  Kenyan News Agency, Kenya, by Margaret Kalekye

URL:     http://www.kbc.co.ke/news.asp?nid=71345

DATE:    17.07.2011

SUMMARY: "Two legislators allied to Eldoret North MP Minister William Ruto have vowed to mobilize their colleagues to block the government?s decision to allow the importation of genetically modified maize into the country, terming the consignment as unfit for human consumption. Belgut MP Charles Keter and his Kaloleni counterpart Kazungu Kambi say the importation of the GMO maize under the guise of addressing the drought situation was a ploy by some politicians to make money. "

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MPS THREATEN TO BLOCK GMO IMPORTATION

The cereal millers association says it had been allowed to import GMO maize to help ease the acute shortage

Two legislators allied to Eldoret North MP Minister William Ruto have vowed to mobilize their colleagues to block the government?s decision to allow the importation of genetically modified maize into the country, terming the consignment as unfit for human consumption. 

Belgut MP Charles Keter and his Kaloleni counterpart Kazungu Kambi say the importation of the GMO maize under the guise of addressing the drought situation was a ploy by some politicians to make money. 

They warned hundreds of hunger stricken Kenyans to be wary of the imports stating that the maize was being used for feeding pigs and cows in its countries of origin. 

Kazungu who is also Assistant Minister for Medical Services declared he was ready to lose his ministerial post over the issue that threatens the safety of Kenyans.

They added that they will be in the fore-front in opposing the government?s move to allow importation of genetically modified maize that has been rejected in the countries of their origin when the matter comes to the floor of the house.

Kambi said if the government was genuine, it should have allowed the importation of clean maize from countries like Malawi and Zambia. 

The MPs were speaking at Cheptongei village in Marakwet West district.

The government has come under heavy criticism for approving the importation of the GMOs

Parliamentary committee on agriculture Chairperson John Mututho says they will not allow the importation of GMO foods which he claims are harmful and should not be allowed within our borders.

The cereal millers association says it had been allowed to import GMO maize to help ease the acute shortage.



                                  PART 5

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   FARMERS? LOBBY BACKS GM MAIZE IMPORTS

SOURCE:  Daily Nation, Kenya

AUTHOR:  Peter Ng?etich & Philomen Suter

URL:     http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Farmers+lobby+backs+GM+maize+imports+/-/1056/1203798/-/fnjrhi/-/

DATE:    18.07.2011

SUMMARY: "A farmers? lobby has supported calls for Kenyans to adopt genetically modified crops as residents in drought-hit areas also welcomed the plan to import GM maize. Cereals Growers Association chief executive officer David Nyameino said the maize was resistant to diseases and harsh weather conditions and would improve production. He said the maize had been grown in many parts of the world to reduce hunger, and wondered why Kenya was locking out the technology."

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FARMERS? LOBBY BACKS GM MAIZE IMPORTS

A farmers? lobby has supported calls for Kenyans to adopt genetically modified crops as residents in drought-hit areas also welcomed the plan to import GM maize.

Cereals Growers Association chief executive officer David Nyameino said the maize was resistant to diseases and harsh weather conditions and would improve production.

He said the maize had been grown in many parts of the world to reduce hunger, and wondered why Kenya was locking out the technology.

Improve production

?Most of the maize imports are from the US and South Africa, which grow 90 and 70 per cent respectively. Why the hullabaloo?? Mr Nyameino posed.

He added: ?Who has researched on the maize we grow to feed Kenyans to know if it is harmful because it has also been improved with time?? 

He told the Nation that maize production in the country would double if farmers adopted the technology.

He said the country?s population had risen to 38 million and the 32 million bags realised annually could not meet the demand.

Mr Nyameino said land under maize was reducing yearly and technology was the only way to increase production. 

At the same time, residents in drought-hit areas of the North Rift welcomed the plan to import GM maize. 

The Cabinet last week approved a budget of Sh9 billion to buy food for an estimated 1.3 million Kenyans facing severe food shortage.

Not concerned

?As long as we are hungry, we will welcome the Cabinet move regardless of the controversy surrounding the GM maize,? said Mr Nelson Cheboi, a spokesperson for people who were evicted from Embobut forest. 

Although most residents do not have clear information about GM crops, they were not concerned with the outcry from activists and politicians castigating its importation.

They praised the Cabinet for approving the importation, saying, it was better to risk eating GM food than starve to death.

In Marakwet East, Pokot North and Pokot Central districts, which are most hit by the food shortage, residents welcomed the Cabinet decision.

Pokot North DC George Onyango said starving residents would welcome anything.

Some MPs, including assistant ministers Kazungu Kambi (Medical Services), Jebii Kilimo (Co-operative) and Belgut MP Charles Keter, argued GM maize had negative effects.

?We do not want our people to eat GM maize because it has bad effects on their health. We totally are against it,? Mr Kambi said.

Mrs Kilimo urged her constituents not to eat GM maize.



                                  PART 6

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   PUBLISHING RULES ON GMO IMPORTS STARTS

SOURCE:  Daily Nation, Kenya

AUTHOR:  Gatonye Gathura

URL:     http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Publishing+rules+on+GMO+imports+starts+/-/1056/1203730/-/irlh6r/-/

DATE:    18.07.2011

SUMMARY: "The much-awaited guidelines on the importation and handling of genetically modified maize are ready and interested millers could be invited to make applications before the end of this week. The guidelines are already with the Government Printer.  According to the chairman of the National Biosafety Authority Miriam Kinyua, guidelines on three aspects of importing GMOs out of a possible eight were signed by the minister for Higher Education, Dr Hellen Sambili on Friday and could be published as early as Tuesday."

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PUBLISHING RULES ON GMO IMPORTS STARTS

The much-awaited guidelines on the importation and handling of genetically modified maize are ready and interested millers could be invited to make applications before the end of this week.

The guidelines are already with the Government Printer. 

According to the chairman of the National Biosafety Authority Miriam Kinyua, guidelines on three aspects of importing GMOs out of a possible eight were signed by the minister for Higher Education, Dr Hellen Sambili on Friday and could be published as early as Tuesday.

One of them involves conditions on importation, transportation or export of GM organisms. This will mean interested importers can start making applications to the authority.

According to Prof Kinyua, the authority is yet to work out on labelling of the products, as decided at a Cabinet meeting that recently approved the importation of GM maize.

Labelling has to meet international standards, indicating where such should be placed, the size and the wording.

Labelling food products as being genetically modified has been contested globally in the last 20 years until two weeks ago when the US dropped its opposition to having food labels revealing the presence of genetically modified ingredients.

Food labelling

Called the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a collection of the world?s food safety regulatory agencies, has been labouring for two decades to come up with consensus to guide this topic. 

The new Codex agreement means that any country wishing to adopt GM food labelling will no longer face the threat of a legal challenge from the World Trade Organisation (WTO). 

This is because national measures based on Codex guidance or standards cannot be challenged as a barrier to trade, according to the agreement reached in Geneva on July 5. 

?We are particularly pleased that the new guidance that recognises that GM labelling is justified as a tool for post-market monitoring. 

?This is one of the key reasons we want all GM foods to be required to be labelled ? so that if consumers eat modified foods, they will be able to know and report to regulators if they have an allergic or other adverse reaction,? she said.

The labelling milestone is particularly welcome in Africa, which has been fighting on behalf of their consumers for the right to be informed about GM food according to Mr Samuel Ochieng? of the Kenya Consumer Information Network.