Govt launches awareness campaigns to promote GMOs

Friday September 11 2015

Eliud Kireger (right), the Director General of

Eliud Kireger (right), the Director General of KALRO and Cyril Cheruiyot, the Uasin Gishu County Chief Executive for Agriculture address the press on GMOs in Eldoret Town on September 3, 2015. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By GERALD BWISA
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The government has launched awareness campaigns to sensitise farmers on genetically modified crops.

The drive, which started in the Rift Valley, faces resistance from farmers and lobby groups. The region produces most of Kenya’s maize and wheat.

Experts, through the Kenya Agriculture Livestock and Research Organisation, and the University of Nairobi’s Centre of Biotechnology and College of Biological Sciences are spearheading the awareness and sensitisation.

During a meeting in Eldoret Town on Tuesday, Dr Joel Ochieng said there should be no cause for alarm over GM crops.

Dr Ochieng said locally developed maize seeds have undergone rigorous safety tests.

He added that researchers were only waiting to be allowed to introduce the crops into the market.

CRITICS SPREADING LIES

Dr Ochieng said GMO critics were spreading lies and misleading consumers that the crops would cause cancer or infertility.

“The locally developed GM crops will ensure the country is food secure.

They have no health risks,” Dr Ochieng, the team leader of the campaign, said.

The sensitisation comes in the wake of last week’s demonstration by North Rift farmers.

They blocked the Eldoret-Nairobi highway for hours.

Dr Ochieng said the government could not fund campaigns for something that was harmful to its citizens.

Dr Eliud Kereger, the Director-General of the organisation, said Kenya was losing revenue as a result of maize diseases and asked farmers to embrace the technology.

He said GM crops were resistant to diseases, adding that the technology was the solution to food security in Kenya and Africa.

Uasin Gishu Agriculture Executive Cyril Cheruiyot said bio-technology was the answer to fighting hunger.

“With adoption of GMO crops, the situation where children especially in hardship areas, stay away from schools due to hunger will be history,” he said.