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Kenyan small farmers criticize multinationals over GMOs

(Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2004 -- CropChoice news) -- The East African Standard (Kenya), 08/23/04:
The newly-registered Kenya Small-Scale Farmers Forum yesterday claimed that the Government was being arm-twisted by multinationals to accept genetically modified food whose consumers become infertile as recently proved by German sheepkeepers.

The group representing farmers, pastoralists and the fishermen further expressed fear that as famine continued, some developed countries offering food aid might slip into the country the terminator technology seeds that threaten farmers' ability to save and share indigenous seeds which have stood the test of time.

During a news conference in Thika, national chairman Moses Shaha said GMOs posed a great danger to food security and other indigenous gene pool because they were dormant and would mix through cross pollination.

This will hand over control of our food system to multi-national companies who have created these seeds for financial gain increasing costs for farmers through the use of agrochemicals association with GM crops replacing the need for farm labour.

Shaha said GMOs threatened Kenya's environment as it was contaminative and unfriendly to bio diversity posing a threat to the existence of indigenous seeds, organic farming system, human and animal health.

Source: http://allafrica.com/stories/200408230733.html

The Thika Declaration on GMOs

Statement from the Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum
20 August, 2004

We, the Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum leaders, representing crop farmers, pastoralists and fisherfolk, do declare today, August 20th 2004, that farming is our livelihood and not just a trade. Farming has been passed down from generation to generation, and is now threatened by Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

GMOs are a danger to food security and our indigenous gene pool. Patented GMO crops threaten farmers' ability to save and share their indigenous seeds which have stood the test of time. Thus they will reduce our seed security and food security, without the long and short term effects on our health and environment being known. GMOs will hand control of our food systems to the multinational companies, who have created these seeds for financial gain, and not for our need.

These new seeds may create conflict between farmers due to the risks of cross pollination from GMO to non GMO crops leading to contamination between farms.

GMOs will increase costs for farmers. This new kind of agriculture has been produced using a complicated and expensive process called genetic engineering. To make their profits back from the farmers, the companies patent the GMO seeds, which leads to higher costs for farmers, who are then forbidden from saving and sharing their seeds for planting the following season. If the seeds fail, farmers are left in great destitution. The agrochemicals associated with GM crops will oblige farmers to pay the high prices set by the companies, and replace the need for paid farm labour, thereby threatening our livelihoods.

GMOs threaten Kenya?s environment. A clean environment is a fundamental right for all. GMOs on the contrary are contaminative, unfriendly to our biodiversity, and pose a threat to the existence of our indigenous seeds, to organic farming systems, and to human and animal health in general.

Our government is being arm-twisted to accept GMOs by multinationals, without considering the effects on small scale farmers.

Small scale farmers in Kenya should be included in policy formulation on agriculture research and food security. Government should invest in irrigation, improvement of infrastructure, appropriate technologies, marketing, subsidies, credit, farm inputs and better rangeland management, and NOT ON GMOs.

We believe that God created life, and no one can own it, not even Monsanto, Syngenta or other multinational companies. We therefore reject all GMOs in agriculture, and call upon the Kenyan government to respect our indigenous expertise. Therefore to be able to fully understand the effects of GMOs on our livelihoods, health and environment, we demand a twenty-year moratorium on GMOs in Kenya.