Bio Safety Act /GMOs, Have The Promises Been Kept?

Posted by on 3rd August 2011

Categories:   MP Participation News

By Moreen Majiwa (@mmajiwa)

The issue of whether or not to import GMO’s into the country has been ongoing for over a decade.  Despite the initial resistance to the Bio Saftey Bill it was passed almost unanimously during its third reading. The passage of the Bio-Safety Act was the official enactment of a law to that would both allow and govern the importation of GMOs. Several MPs supported the bill with the promise that GMOs would be properly policed. Below are excerpts from the debate on the Bio-Safety Act and the names of the MPs who supported the Bill and those that did not.

Have the promises on regulation of GMOs made during debate on the Bio Safety bill been kept?  You decide.

MPs who supported the Bill

Dr. Kilemi Mwiria (The Assistant Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology)

‘This is a Bill on safety to safeguard Kenyans against the unintended use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In other words, it is to guard against the very same fears that a lot of us are expressing with regard to issues of biotechnology. It is also to guard us against a situation which is already occurring in that we already have GMOs with us.’

Robert Monda: “we are putting in place safety and regulatory mechanism so that we can through an Act regulate any GMOs. We want to allay the fears that have been expressed by hon. Members – I think it is the name that has fuelled the fears. These are genetically modified organisms! That is simple and straightforward English: It is not science. We want to be very clear that we do not create unnecessary fear in the public; that GMOs are coming in with complications, health problems or lack of food. We are not introducing GMOs now. They are already there!”

William Ruto: “There are very clear guidelines on the safe use of GMOs that are provide in the Bill. The framework established under the Bill are full-proof mechanism that no GMO will be introduced into this country unless it has been subjected to a thorough research and scientific analysis to ensure that it is safe in not only in terms of health for humans beings but also safe for the environment.”

Jakoyo Midiwo: “It is very surprising that there is lot of opposition to this bill.”

Dr. Wilber Otichilo: “GMOs are part of science and technology. This Bill is going to guard this country against anybody bringing in GMOs or any other crops that we deem unfit for this country.”

Sally Kosgey: “Sir, the new law does not seek to introduce any GMOs or products of GMOs without strict supervision and quarantine. The new law is, indeed, for the protection of Kenyans from careless escapes or presentation of GMOs or products of GMOs, in strict accordance with the Cartagena Protocol”

Per the Hansard MPs who spoke in support of the bill – David Koech, Elizabeth Ongoro, Danson Mungatana, Rachel Shebesh, Noah Wekesa

MPs Opposed to the Bill

Silas Ruteere: “I am not convinced because I know contrary to what has been advocated for the countries that use GMOs like maize or sorghum…grow then for animals. WE want to introduce GMOS but the mechanisms for the issues to do with warehouses, proper control and lack of control for contamination of our seeds have not been provided for in the bill.”

John Mututho: “I am prepared to table a document which gives a summary of the world research on food productivity based on GMOs, showing clearly that there has never been any significant change except for the maize variety MO810, which increased up to a level of 10% and not beyond that .”

Aden Duale:the fundamental question I want to ask and which I want everybody to hear is; if today you are the policy-maker in this country, could you allow a large scale-farmer to plant GMOs? If you are a policy-maker in this country, you need to ask yourself; if you were a consumer, will you eat such food?”

Franklin Bett: “We must not mix these seeds with other seeds. I want to say that we must allow risk assessment to be properly done before we introduce GMO products. In this country we seem to be in a hurry to introduce them.”