NAIROBI – Health rights advocates have dragged the Kenyan Government to the East African Court of Justice for lifting the ban on the use of Genetically Modified Organisms-GMOs.
The lawsuit was filed by the Centre for Food and Adequate Living Rights- CEFROHT, a human organization that promotes social justice in food, health, trade, and investment systems.
In October, the Kenyan cabinet lifted the ban on the importation of GMO foods.
According to the government, lifting the ban was aimed at plugging the impending food scarcity in the country as the harvest there is expected to fall drastically due to the erratic rains.
The decision by the Kenyan cabinet to lift the ban on the importation of GMO foods rattled the region’s farming fraternity, on fears that this might lead to disastrous effects on the sector.
According to the petition that was filed on Friday, CEFROHT wants the court to declare that allowing GMOs in Kenya is inconsistent and contravenes more than 15 articles that establish the East African Community-EAC.
They are also seeking an order from Kenya to reinstate the ban on GMOs, for the good of the region.
CEFROHT argues that GMOs will take away smallholder farmers’ sovereignty over their seed, food, and farms as they will be required to pay royalties and user rights to the multinational companies producing these organisms.
David Kabanda, the CEFROHT Executive Director, said that they had decided to petition the court to put an end to what he termed as “GMO madness” in the region that must be stopped immediately.
“GMOs not only have health, agricultural and environmental side effects but also create an open monopoly that leads economic exploitation of smallholder farmers, which is against the African charter on human and people’s rights which restricts states, parties from embracing all forms of foreign economic exploitation, particularly those practiced by international monopolies so as to enable their people to fully benefit from the advantages derived from their national resources”
According to Kabanda, GMOs are also not the solution to the food problem in the region.
Kabanda also said that instead of introducing GMO farming, the government can focus on irrigation where drought is a problem, or introduce naturally drought-resistant crops including tree fruits like cashew nuts that can be grown even in semi-arid places.