Wednesday, November 21, 2012

GMOs banned as cancer fears grow

A woman during a past protest against GMOs in Nairobi. Photo/FILE
A woman during a past protest against GMOs in Nairobi. Photo/FILE
What are GMOs?
By MIKE MWANIKI mmwaniki@ke.nationmedia.com

The government has banned the importation of genetically modified foods with immediate effect.

Consequently, Public Health and Sanitation minister Beth Mugo ordered public health officials to mop up any GMOs (genetically modified organisms) that might be circulating in the market adding that experts would meanwhile study the health effects of the foods.

Ms Mugo said the study on the controversial foods would be spearheaded by a team of Kenya Medical Research Institute scientists in collaboration with experts from local universities. (READ: This anti-GMO army is going against the grain)

“My ministry wishes to clarify the decision was based on genuine concerns that adequate research had not been done on GMOs and scientific evidence provided to prove the safety of these foods (on consumers),” she said.

Speaking during a press conference held at her ministry’s Afya House headquarters in Nairobi, Mrs Mugo added:

“The protection of the consumer and assurance to the public on the safety of the foods is extremely important in making decisions about food importation, distribution and consumption.... Where there is apprehension and uncertainty regarding the safety of food products, precaution to protect the health of the people must be undertaken.”

Fielding questions from journalists, the minister noted concerns remained that there was a link between the consumption of GMO foods and cancer, which was a major issue especially due to the increased cases of the disease in the country.

“Consequently, the Government has decided that until such an informed policy decision is made, all GMO food imports are completely banned,” Ms Mugo said, directing local millers who had imported GMO maize to comply with the order and public health officials at all ports of entry and other stakeholders to enforce the ban.