NEWS FROM AFRICA
1.Kenyan Cabinet Wants GM Foods Banned
2.Tanzania: State Not Ready for GMOs - Minister
3.Ghana to begin GMO Testing - response
NOTE: Awaiting more information on item 1. We've been told the Kenyan Cabinet has directed the Public Health Minister to ban the importation of GM foods. As Kenya has always been one of the biotech industry's prime targets in Africa, this development will be a disaster for the industry if correct, and there is likely to be immense US-industry pressure on the Kenyan Government to backtrack.
1.Cabinet Wants GMO's Foods Banned [extract]
Citizen News, 8 November 2012
The Cabinet held a meeting today in which it approved several pieces of legislations for consideration and enactment by Parliament.
The meeting chaired by President Mwai Kibaki directed Public Health Minister to ban the importation of Genetically Modified foods (GMOs) until such a time that the country will certify that they have no negative impact on the health of the people
The Cabinet in a statement issued by PPS noted that there is no sufficient information on the dangers of such foods and ordered that the ban will stay until when there is sufficient information, data, and knowledge indicating that they are not dangerous to the public health.
2.Tanzania: State Not Ready for GMOs - Minister
All Africa, 7 November 2012
THE government has said that it is not ready to adopt Genetic Modified Foods and Organisms (GMO) technology as the National Assembly on Monday evening passed the Bill proposing for the establishment of "The Plant Breeders' Rights Act, 2012".
The Bill was endorsed amid heated debate by Members of the Parliament who expressed concern that it would open doors for multinational companies to come in the country and develop genetically modified seeds and in the process undermine traditional ones.
Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Mr Christopher Chizza said that the Bill aimed at replacing another law enacted by Parliament in 2002, The Protection of New Plant Varieties (Plant Breeders' Rights) Act, 2002. He said that the 2002 law does not attract researchers to research on seeds and that the new law would increase morale by introducing royalty and copyrights.
Mr Chizza said while tabling the Bill in the House for the second time that the government had no intention to open doors for GMOs but it was a move aimed at looking for quality and high yield seeds. "For a GMO to be introduced in the country there are strict liabilities attached under the Environmental Management Act, 2004, therefore there is no need to panic because we are all patriotic and we would not like to put the future of our country in doubt," he said.
He added that the government has its experts at Mikocheni area in Dar es Salaam who are conducting research on GMOs and that the experts have been cautioned not to make any dubious recommendations because of the sensitivity of the matter. "The government is committed in preserving local seeds and we will not let them be replaced by foreign seeds," he said.
He said that the Bill was a move by the government to adhere to the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) ratified by parliament in 20. "The law is not a result of external forces but it is aimed at protecting the rights of researchers on new varieties of seeds," he said.
Earlier, legislators hailed the government for coming up with the Bill saying it would increase availability of seeds and motivate researchers. The MPs also said that the law would help in realizing real objectives of government's policy of Kilimo Kwanza (Agriculture First) which has been hindered by inadequate quality seeds.
Prof Peter Msola (Kilolo-CCM) said that the law has come at an opportune time as seeds production in the country remain poor at almost 25 per cent of the demand, making the country dependent on seeds from abroad. "Through the implementation of this law we will be able to improve technologically but the government should also fulfil its promise of putting aside one per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for research purposes," he said.
He said that since the promise of putting aside that amount was made, the government has not been able to fulfil it, saying there was a need to improve in the future. Mr Salim Hemed Hamis (Chambani-CUF) said that the Bill would improve agriculture by introducing modern seeds. He said that the maximum demand of seeds in the country was at 120,000 tons per annum and 60,000 tons on average but the country's capacity on the same is at around 28,000 tons.
Mr Suleiman Jafo (Kisarawe-CCM) said that researchers in the country were being demoralized by the fact that their work in discovering better seeds is never honoured. "Having this law in place will boost morale among our researchers and make them work hard than ever before as they are sure of getting royalty from their work and copyrights for their innovations," he said.
He emphasized on the need for the government to live up to its promises by setting aside one per cent of the country's GDP for research. "Nothing will be discovered without researches and there cannot be researches without funds, therefore the need to put aside enough money for that purpose is vital," he said. Mr Jafo also called for improved research institutions in terms of working environment and ensure that mentors therein are motivated enough to play their role accordingly.
3.RE: Ghana to begin GMO Testing
Ghane Web, 9 November 2012
Although the politicians in Ghana's parliament have done their bit and have allowed Monsanto lobbyists and scientists influenced by this corporate giant to pass the Bio-Safety Bill in Ghana, that does not stop conscientious objectors from continuing to point out the gross error these politicians in parliament have committed.
The simple fact is that there is strong current research showing the adverse effects GMOs on mammalian metabolism. Probably the only long-term study available (published in September 2012) of the effects of GMO has shown that one kind of Genetically Modified product (Monsanto’s GMO corn) is not only a health hazard but caused massive cancerous tumours to develop in rats fed on a long term diet of this corn. This led many countries to ban this product with immediate effect...
Let me just point out once again that the study referenced above is one of the few if not the only available LONG TERM study of the effects of GMO on mammalian metabolism. The peer-reviewed article published in the Food and Chemical Toxicology Journal is entitled "Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize".
It is with this in mind that I would like to point out for the record that Dr. Ibrahim Kwasi Atokple is misleading the Ghanaian public as he goes about "dispelling [the] general perception that GM foods may have some health implications on humans" (refer to Ghanaweb article published on 12th October 2012 entitled Ghana to begin GMO Testing)
If you think that such effects are limited only to lab animals such as rats then think again. This is not true. Again, there is research to back up what I am saying. Current research being carried out in Australia and in Canada is showing GMO toxins crossing the barrier from mother to child in pregnant women. The studies showed pregnant women and their children having high quantities of 3-methylphosphinico propionic acid (3-MMPA), a metabolite of gluphosinate (itself a substance used in GMO herbicides) as well as Bt toxin (GMO protein) Cry1Ab. Both substances are linked to GMOs. One can find studies that show that contact with 3-MMPA can lead to cancer, DNA damage, and reproductive health problems.
So I would like to point these out to the good doctor (Ibrahim Kwasi Atokple) and his buddy/colleague Prince Addae who works for Monsanto as a geneticist as well as closely with Dr Atokple. You cannot tell me that Monsanto does not have a keen interest in Africa in general and West Africa in particular? Please do not mislead.
Ghana’s politicians are bought and sold on this issue and have caved in one way or another to the pressures of lobbyists representing foreign corporate interests such as Monsanto. I do not believe that it is beyond the power of Ghanaian parliamentarians to discern the possible health risks associated with a hasty acceptance of GMOs. Tanzania’s parliament has only recently had this debate and the good people of that country, being led by responsible parliamentarians, have come to the wise conclusion that GMOs are not for Tanzania. You can read about it on allafrica.com. In Ghana, the story is different. Politicians across the political divide are in bed with lobbyists and corporations such as Monsanto that support them. The Bio Safety Laws are nothing but legislative clothing to legitimize the cultivation of these dangerous (toxic) versions of plants. Yet I believe it is not too late. Even now, the right course of action can be taken. Act now to preserve present and future
generations. History always ends up being our judge.