News / Africa

    Kenya Now Able to Produce, Import GM Foods

    Kenya Now Able to Produce, Import GM Foods
    Kenya Now Able to Produce, Import GM Foods

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Joe DeCapua

    Kenya is now allowing the production and importation of genetically modified foods. On July 1, a new law took effect making it the fourth African country to allow the crops. The others are South Africa, Egypt and Burkina Faso.

    Supporters of the law say genetically modified foods will help Kenya deal with chronic grain shortages. In the United States, federal officials say they are safe to eat, but others are opposed to them.

    The crops are also known as GMO, or genetically modified, organisms, or simply GM, for genetically modified.

    Dr. Vandana Shiva, director of Navdanya, a research foundation based in New Delhi, India, has long been an opponent of GM foods.

    “I have been monitoring this issue since it became an issue. And Africa has been a leader in bio-safety. Africa, 10 years, 15 years ago, was showing that you don’t need GMOs. The fact that Kenya has opened its doors to GMOs is part of the pressure that’s building up with big money…. It’s not really a democratic decision, which is why you’re seeing protests in Kenya,” she said.

    The new law states that approval of Kenya’s National Safety Authority is needed before GM business can be conducted.

    Grain shortfalls

    Shiva disagrees with those who say the modified crops are needed because Kenya faces a chronic grain shortfall.

    “GMOs definitely don’t overcome grain shortages. The technology doesn’t allow an increase in yield. So far, all it’s done is introduce two kinds of toxic genes into plants. One, herbicide resistance, which is failing to control weeds in the U.S…and Bt toxin gene, which is also not able to control pests. We have an emergence of resistance in the bollworm in India,” she said.

    Safety

    The U.S.has said GM foods are safe to eat. Monsanto, a major producer of genetically modified crops, also said the foods are “safe to eat.”

    “Hundreds of millions of meals containing food from GM crops have been consumed and that there has not been a single substantiated instance of illness or harm associated with GM crops,” said Montsanto.

    Shiva once again disagrees. She said, “There are safety issues. The U.S. has never ever done serious trials independent of the company’s. Unfortunately, in 1992 the United States introduced the principle of ‘substantial equivalence,’ which said treat a genetically modified food as if it is a normal food. And therefore, it is a ‘don’t see, don’t look and assume safety’ policy.”

    On its website, Monsanto states, “Substantial equivalence is a useful concept which is accepted and utilized by most regulatory agencies worldwide, including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Japanese Ministry of Health and welfare, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. However, substantial equivalence is NOT the end of the assessment process--we still have to address anything that is new or different.”

    Shiva describes the U.S. as being “backward” in bio-safety testing. She added that independent testing done in Europe was “attacked by the industry” when safety issues were raised.

    “Organs are getting affected. Immunity is getting affected,” she said.

    Monsanto produces a variety of GM crops. It said, “All of these crops have been assessed for food and feed safety in producing countries, and many more countries have approved the import of food or food ingredients that contain GM products.”

    Organic farming

    Shiva and her foundation promote organic farming to solve food security problems. But can organic farming cover Kenya’s food needs, considering the country is in the midst of a serious and prolonged drought?

    “The only way to deal with drought is through organic farming because drought means scarcity of water. That means you must have more moisture available in your soil to be able to produce food,” she said. “The only way you can increase soil moisture is through increasing organic matter. Our research in India shows that we can have as much as a 25 percent increase in organic matter by recycling plant residues, organic manure and doing composting.”

    She said this technique not only creates drought resilience but also increases food production.

    Our work in India,” said Shiva, “shows that we can double food production in India if we adopt ecological methods. The United Nations, based on African studies…put out a report showing that ecological methods are…doubling production in Africa. That data cannot be ignored anymore. Kenya can feed itself. Africa can feed itself. The world can feed itself through organic matter.”

    Cost

    In the United States, organic food often costs more than non-organic food.

    “The higher prices that are prevailing in the world across the board on food are because of speculation. As far as organic being costly is concerned, in the supermarkets, yes, but not in the farmers’ market. And therefore what we need to do to make organic accessible is to create decentralized distribution systems where there are direct links between the farmers and the eaters,” she said.

    Shiva said this has been done in Brazil with great success.

    “It’s not organic that’s costly,’ she said. “It’s organic distribution that becomes costly because it has no support, no subsidies of the kind that chemical food. Food controlled by agribusiness gets $400 billion of subsidies in the rich countries.”

    Shiva said other countries may follow Kenya in allowing GM foods because of the heavy marketing by Monsanto.

    Groups opposed to genetically modified foods plan to release a new report on the matter on World Food Day, October 16.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora