BY JONATHAN KAMOGA
Ugandan activists have petitioned the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) over Kenya’s decision to allow the unrestricted use, import and cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), citing potential risks to the region.
In a petition filed at the court’s offices in Kampala on Friday, lobbyists from Slow Food International and the Center for Nutrition and Adequate Living Rights urged the court to prevent Kenya from implementing what they see as unlawful against the treaty African Charter of Human and People’s Rights designated for the establishment of the EAC and the EAC.
Last October, the cabinet in Kenya lifted a 10-year ban on GMOs restricted to open cultivation and importation, becoming the second country in Africa to do so.
However, regional partners such as Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda are taking bold steps to eliminate GMOs, with Kampala twice deferring parliamentary legislation on the issue.
Kenya said the move was to curb prevailing hunger, which is being blamed on the drought which has hit about three million citizens so far.
The Kenyan government said the decision was informed through various technical and expert reports from regulatory bodies such as the National Biosafety Agency and the World Health Organization.
Others include the United States Food and Drugs Administration, the European Food Safety Authority, and the Food and Agriculture Organization.
The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Organization is already growing GMO crops such as cassava and corn.
There is now growing unease that given the volume of trade and social networking between Nairobi and its neighbors, GMOs could definitely seep across Kenya’s borders.
“We want the court to order Kenya to stop this GMO madness. GMOs create an open monopoly that leads to the economic exploitation of small farmers amidst the already crippling economic environment,” said David Kabanda, executive director of the Center for Nutrition and Adequate Living Rights.
“The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights prevents States parties from using all forms of economic exploitation abroad, particularly those practiced by international monopolies, so that their populations can reap the full benefits derived from national resources.”