Uasin Gishu MP Gladys Shollei has called for urgent withdrawal of dozens of harmful pesticides from the market expressing fear that most of them contain harmful chemicals that pose danger to health and the environment.
The MP said her call was necessitated by research and studies that show that there are pesticide products registered in the country that contain substances in them, with proven chronic health and negative environmental effects.
“There are products in the market that cause cancer, affect our reproductive systems and lead to auto-immune diseases. There are products in the market that pose a risk to our bee populations and other important pollinators for food production,” Ms Shollei says in a petition she filed in the National Assembly yesterday.
In the petition, the MP wants the government to immediately ban all products on the Kenyan market classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic, endocrine disrupters, neurotoxic and many which show clear effects on reproduction toxicity.
She further wants the government to implement a strategy to remove such harmful pesticides from the market because it can take several years for the products to be completely unavailable through local shops and dealers.
She wants the government to establish and strengthen monitoring system on the use of pesticide through increased data collection on food samples in the market and the level of pesticide contained
“The food we are consuming, including fruits and vegetables that we all believe to be healthy, is likely to have harmful pesticide residues. Our farmers, who often can’t afford protective gear or are not trained on how to use these chemicals safely, are at risk.”
Although she refused to name the particular pesticides for legal reasons, the MP challenged the Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya (BIBA-K), Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN), Resources Oriented Development Initiatives (RODI Kenya) and Route to Food Initiative (RTFI) and the national government to move with speed and begin to put in place measures that will guarantee food safety in the country.
The first step towards achieving this, Ms Shollei said, will be to withdraw toxic products from the market, starting with those that are withdrawn from the European market.
At least 32 per cent of the active ingredients registered for use in Kenya, are not allowed in Europe. Most of the pesticides used in Kenya, are imported from Europe.
She said that much as the country is growing food for export, but the government is less concerned about the quality of food made available to its own people, warning that this is not acceptable.
“By tabling this petition, we want assurance from the government and regulatory agencies that the food we are consuming is not and will not, drive us to early graves.”
Speaker Justin Muturi committed the petition to the departmental committee on Health which is expected to conduct an inquiry and report back to the House in the next 60 days.