Politics and policy

New push to prosecute GMO importers after Cabinet ban

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Health officials have been ordered to mop up GMO foods in circulation. Photo/FILE

Health officials have been ordered to mop up GMO foods in circulation. Photo/FILE  Nation Media Group

By EDWIN MUTAI

Posted  Thursday, November 22  2012 at  21:15

In Summary

  • Parliament’s Agriculture Committee chairman John Mututho said manufacturers, importers and distributors of GM foods should be prosecuted because the commodities were banned by the Cabinet two weeks ago.
  • Mr Mututho said he had information that 280,000 metric tonnes of maize (approximately four million bags) was in circulation in the country.
  • He also claimed that the committee was aware that GMO seeds has been distributed to poor farmers throughout the country and may have been planted during the last season or the next.

An MP has asked the government to urgently investigate the importation of genetically modified foodstuffs in contravention of the Biosafety Act.
Parliament’s Agriculture Committee chairman John Mututho said manufacturers, importers and distributors of GM foods should be prosecuted because the commodities were banned by the Cabinet two weeks ago.

“Those who have allowed illegal imports of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) should be pursued, charged and made to compensate the affected Kenyans,” said Mututho.

The calls for prosecution come a day after Public Health minister Beth Mugo said the ban on the importation of genetically modified food would be enforced forthwith.

She ordered public officials to mop up all GM foods that might be circulating in the market as experts led by researchers from Kenya Medical Research Institute study health effects of the food.

Mr Mututho said he had information that 280,000 metric tonnes of maize (approximately four million bags) was in circulation in the country.

The Naivasha MP also claimed that the committee was aware that GM seeds has been distributed to poor farmers throughout the country and may have been planted during the last season or the next.

The MP alleged that Kenyans who consume meat products such as sausages may have eaten GM products.

Mr Mututho criticised the government for failing to heed the committee’s call from 2008 when it raised concerns that GM maize had been imported into the country by “four powerful families.”

Cautiously

“We want those who allowed 280,000 metric tonnes of GM maize through the port of Mombasa from the US to be prosecuted since we have passed information, including dossiers as the Agriculture Committee on the same,” he said.

The MP also called on those who may have been affected by such crops to come out during prosecution in seeking compensation.

Addressing a press conference at Parliament, Mr Mututho said the Cartagena protocol allows importation of GMOs but must be done cautiously.

He challenged ministries and institutions charged with managing the GM food to move with speed and manage the crisis.