We condemn the lifting of the Ban on Genetically Modified Crops in Kenya

La Via Campesina Southern and Eastern Africa Solidarity Statement

Today, the 21st of October, we – La Via Campesina Southern and Eastern Africa (LVC SEAf) – one of the nine regions of La Via Campesina the largest peasants’ global movement that brings together millions of peasants, small and medium sized farmers, landless people, rural youth and women, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers around the world – are joining hands with Kenyan Peasants League and all peasants to condemn the decision made by the Government of Kenya to lift the ban on open cultivation and importation of white GMO Maize.

It is no secret that Genetically Modified (GM) foods can have harmful effects on the human body, and the results of different studies on GM foods indicate that they may cause some common toxic effects. It is our view that the Kenyan Government should focus on promoting the banking of indigenous seeds, which can be replanted after every season and shared among members without altering their nutritional benefit as opposed to GM seeds that require farmers to keep buying them every season and are very expensive, threaten the existing biodiversity and makes farmers very dependent on corporate seeds as they are patented.

The struggle against GM crops is grounded towards the fight for food sovereignty. “A state that is not self-sustain with food, that has no control of what to produce to its people is in danger of its sovereignty” There is no food sovereignty if there is no seed sovereignty. It is on these grounds that we are devastated by the Kenyan’ government’s move to lift the ban on GMO’s.

We contest the argument by the Kenyan Government that the introduction of open trials of white GM Maize and BT Cassava is the answer to the problem of hunger and accessibility to food in Kenya. We know that these seeds cannot be saved for the following seasons, they are patented in a way that we have no right on them in the sense of knowledge, multiplication, sharing and saving. In fact, GMO’s are being promoted not to solve hunger problems but rather to serve the market for Transnational seed companies.

We are therefore joining our comrades in Kenya in demanding the following:

  1. That the Kenyan Government immediately reverse their decision to lift the Ban on Open cultivation and importation of GMOs and address the issues that were raised by the Professor Kihimbu Thairu taskforce.
  2. That the Kenyan government immediately start supporting the banking of indigenous seeds and plant varieties as stipulated under article 11 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.

Africa is rich in biodiversity that we would not want to lose. This call is extended to other African countries in the sense of protecting their own people. We need to be protected by our governments. The trust given to you by us is not only to protect us in terms of military forces but also in terms of food.  We are not ready to surrender ourselves to anyone just because we cannot feed ourselves. The ongoing geopolitics and COVID 19 pandemic has taught us enough on the risks of not being at the centre of controlling our food system.

We are calling on all African governments to remember their commitment when they signed and approved the adoption of the United Nation Declaration on Peasants Rights and Other People Working in Rural Areas to defend their own people. To this regards, we are reminding you on Article 2(3), Article 15(4) of the declaration. The push for GM crops in the African continent is a trap set by transnational corporations to meet their evil appetite for capital accumulation in the name of fighting hunger.

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