Kenya Imports GMO Maize Despite Surplus of Local Grain
Kenya is in many ways ground zero in the fight over GM crops on the African continent. A press release from the Kenya Biodiversity Coalition yesterday called out government officials for allowing the import of GMO maize, while the nation's farmers are producing a surplus and struggling with low prices at the farm gate. GM crops have not been approved for release in Kenya.
The Kenya Biodiversity Coalition (KBioC) is a coalition of farmer organizations, consumer rights groups, faith based groups, and community organizations. According to their release:
"It has come to our attention through our network friends -African Centre for Biosafety, (ACB) based in South Africa, that in January 2010, an international grain handling company in Kenya Louis Dreyfus Commodities (K) Ltd, got an export permit from South Africa to bring into Kenya a consignment of 40,000 MT of GMO maize varieties. This is an issue of public concern and a fresh case of deliberate violation of the Biosafety protocol by the Kenya Government as no approvals have been given for the environmental release of GMOs in Kenya.
When the government opened a window for importation of duty free maize late 2009, it was to address persistent food insecurity Currently, the nation is experiencing a bumper harvest of all cereals. Why did the government extend the window to import duty free maize when farmers in Kenya are struggling with lack of storage facilities and low prices of their recently harvested cereals?"
Industry, public and private donors have been working on GM crops in the country for nearly two decades, despite Kenya's adherence to the Cartagena Protocol. GM crops have never been legal for commercial plantings in Kenya.