More and more influential organizations continue to mount pressure on Kenyan government to consider beckoning to imports of GMO products in the country.
And with this recent push coming from influential organizations around the world including agribusiness giant Monsanto, USAID, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Kenya may soon allow the use of genetically modified cotton and maize seeds.
The country placed an embargo on imports of GMO products in 2012, however, a recent application by Monsanto’s Kenyan subsidiary to supply the cotton seeds in Kenya will probably welcome back the controversial “seeds.”
Organizations pushing widely for GMO agenda in Kenya include African Agricultural Technology Foundation, (AATF), a partnership between USAID, the Rockefeller Foundation, Monsanto, Dupont/Pioneer, Dow Agrosciences, Syngenta, and Aventis. Overall, the agenda is funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).
If these organizations swaying for the use of GMO in Kenya succeed, Kenya would be the fourth African country after Burkina Faso, South Africa, and Sudan to adopt the technology.
What Does Research Say About GMO Seeds
Research shows that the banned seed also known as MON 15985 or Bollgard II has been genetically designed to produce an insecticide, from the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis, that poisons butterflies and moths.
Thus the new technology targets these two pests which, according to scientists and researchers, interfere with production of cotton in Kenya by killing the entire harvest if no pesticides are applied.
Researchers also assert that the seed does not increase produce or reduce damage compared to natural maize.
GM seeds can have undesirable effects on soil. Besides the overwhelming toxic side effects, hybrid seeds cost farmers more money to grow as they are more difficult to germinate.
Monsanto’s modified cotton seeds can cause a lot of farmers to be driven out of business, especially since Kenya’s cotton is hugely produced by small growers.
Similarly, the products often dominate markets, and this will discourage small farmers who might find it difficult to keep up in the farming business.
As a consequence, Kenyans have protested against this change that is likely to come in no time. A forum was organized by National Biosafety Authority to gather feedback about the new technology as required by law and the final decision will be based on the forum comments as well as a risk assessment and other socio-economic considerations.
Earlier in 2013, Monsanto had failed to launch its B-cotton in Malawi due to oppositions from Civil societies in Malawi as regards the cost-benefit analysis on its impact on small-scale farmers.
The Kenyan-based African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) leads a public/private partnership, called the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA), funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Howard G. Buffett Foundation, and USAID.
AATF received US$47 million from the Gates Foundation in 2008, and this transaction has received massive criticisms by global activists for pushing a “big agribusiness” approach to African farming.
Seattle-based AGRA Watch was established following concerns about the Foundation’s influence and lack of transparency in Africa, as well as its close ties with Monsanto and USAID.