Advice on gene maize ignored - Daily Nation

Advice on gene maize ignored

Tuesday July 19 2011

By GERALD ANDAE [email protected]

The government ignored recommendations by the House committee on the rising cost of living in regard to importation of genetically modified maize.

The committee’s chairman, Mr Ababu Namwamba, said this on Tuesday on the second day of a tour of the North Rift town of Eldoret to find out the factors that led to increased cost of farm produce.

His team held a discussion with farmers. “In our preliminary report, we advised the government to consult with the Kenyans first before giving a green light to the importation of GMO in the country,” said Mr Namwamba.

He accused the government of not exploiting the three options given to it before considering the imports.

The MP said the report had recommended that the government weigh the option of asking Kenyans if they preferred yellow maize to GMO, but the government ignored that.

“The committee established that the maize that might be most accessible currently on the international market would be genetically modified, and the government had to decide whether to import or not after duly informing Kenyans of that decision,” said Mr Namwamba.

Mr Namwamba noted that the issue of GMO was a controversial one and though there were unfounded fears about the maize, the government should not have ignored the raised concerns.

“I have heard Kenyans complaining that GMOs paralyse the reproductive system, personally I do not know but government should not ignore such concerns,” he said.

The preliminary report that contains 21 emergency recommendations was presented to the government on June 7 while the final report will be tabled in Parliament on August 11.  

The Budalangi MP said that his committee was yet to confirm whether the consignment that arrived in the country was GMO or normal maize, and asked the government to consider importing non-GMO maize from Zambia and Malawi.

Mr Namwamba, who was accompanied by committee member and Kimilili MP Dr Eseli Simiyu, Eldoret South MP Peris Simam and KFA director Kipkorir Menjo, said they had put restrictions on the report to allow the importation of six million bags only but the government allowed businessmen to import without limits.

Would be harvesting

“We advised the government that North Rift would be harvesting between June and July and we wanted a given number of bags of maize to be imported in order to cushion farmers from the drop in price of maize,” he said.