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July 26, 2011

No Kenyans in South Africa, U.S. have died from eating GM food

by Wycliffe Muga

Sometimes when a public debate involves two conflicting authoritative sources, both of which claim to have science on their side, you can get to the heart of the matter by considering the evidence of your own eyes and experience.

In the current debate on genetically modified foods (generically termed as GMOs) we on the one hand have the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Hon John Mututho, declaring that on a visit to China, he received explicit warnings about GMOs from the scientists in a major Chinese research institution.

On the other hand, we have our own home-grown expert, Dr James Onsando, the Director of the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS) who is at pains to assure Kenyans that we have nothing to fear from the consumption of GMO maize. Who are we to believe? Well thankfully, we have a ready source of accurate information on what happens when a Kenyan eats GMO maize, wheat and anything else.

Look at it this way: How many Kenyans would you say live in the US, both legally and illegally? And how many would you say live in South Africa, once again, both legally and illegally?

Depending on which website you believe, there are anything from 100,000 to 500,000 Kenyans in the US. And between 5,000 and 100,000 Kenyans in South Africa.

But the point here is that all those Kenyans (whatever their true numbers may be) will at some point have eaten GMO crops in one form or another. And at no point have we ever received reports that our fellow citizens are dying in large numbers because they have been eating GMO-based foods for years on end.

Given this evidence of the relative harmlessness of GMO maize and wheat - and as this is a time when the country faces a severe food shortage, the government has done the right thing in allowing the massive importation of GMO maize.

Nairobi Star

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